Semper Fi

Good morning, it’s Friday, November 10, 2017. Six years ago today, Rick Perry was vigorously engaged in damage control on the morning talk shows. The night before, during a Republican primary season presidential debate, Texas’ popular governor had suffered an embarrassing brain freeze — forgetting the third of the three Cabinet-level federal agencies he wanted to abolish.

“Oops,” Perry finally said after trying, but failing, to recall the last one. He remembered the Department of Commerce and the Department of Education but could get no further. It was so painfully awkward on stage that even his rivals tried to help. “EPA?” Mitt Romney suggested.

Oh, if life were only that easy. Perry’s third sacrificial lamb turned out to be the Department of Energy, which seemed passing strange for an oil industry-backing Texas Republican. It’s even stranger today, given that Donald Trump’s sense of the absurd led him to tap the self-same Rick Perry as the U.S. secretary of energy.

Despite his fateful lapse during the November 9, 2011 GOP presidential debate, Rick Perry was in pretty good form in the spin room afterward.

“I’m glad I had my boots on tonight — I stepped in it out there,” he quipped. “I may have forgotten Energy, but I haven’t forgotten my conservative principles.”

The following morning, on NBC’s “Today” show, Perry amplified on that point, seeming to say that the mere fact that he had forgotten one of the federal agencies he wanted to dismantle actually bolstered his contention that there are too many of them.

An unpersuaded Ann Curry responded to this dubious assertion by asking whether he planned to stop debating — or even leave the presidential race altogether. The governor dismissed the very thought of quitting, replying that November 10 was the 236th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps, adding, “If there’s a day to stay in the fight, this is it.”

There, Perry was on solid ground. The United States Marines were commissioned on this date by the Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, in an order drafted by John Adams.

“Resolved, that two battalions of marines be raised,” the November 10, 1775 order began simply. The officers and enlisted men must be “good seamen,” it continued, and would be “distinguished by the names of the first and second battalions of American Marines.”

November 10 is also the date — in 1982 — that the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was first opened to the public. The design was controversial then; it is not anymore. That polished black granite, known to vets simply as “the Wall,” contains the names of 58,318 members of the armed forces who died as a result of their service in Vietnam, 25 percent of whom were U.S. Marines. The architect, Maya Lin, wanted to create “a park within a park.” This she accomplished, and it is a sobering and hallowed space.

Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics
@CarlCannon (Twitter)


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