By now you've seen the picture:
Swaggering, alpha male cowboy governor Rick Perry grabbing the arm of the frail and frightened looking Ron Paul and menacingly wagging a finger in the Senator from Texas' face during a commercial break at the Simi Valley debate earlier in the week.
Predictably, the internet exploded with the meme of Perry abusing the elder statesman. A google search of the event turns up about 375,000 responses.
Liberal bloggers naturally jumped at the image of a stout cowboy type brutishly intimidating a frail septuagenarian as it fits in with their push grandma off a cliff characterization of conservatives.
And without a scintilla of evidence or a transcript of the verbal exchange or third party verification, conservative bloggers gleefully joined in the assault on Perry's character. There could be little doubt of the net's righteous rage in this case. Pictures don't lie.
The bottom line, without question, is that Perry is obviously a thug who brutally manhandles anyone who gets in his way. His disgraceful assault on a fellow Republican and respected member of Congress is beyond the pale. Clearly the man belongs nowhere near the White House and should not be considered as the Republican candidate.
Except . . .
Except . . . well . . . it didn't really happen.
Ron Paul himself has stated publicly that he and the Governor had "no cross words" during any of the commercial breaks in the debate, pointing out that he and Governor Perry had never actually met before. The event was so insignificant to the Senator that he could not even remember what was said between them.
As I've stated before, I believe Rick Perry will end up being the Republican candidate for President. And all these conservative pundits and bloggers are going to have to walk back all these things they've said about the now candidate of their party.
As I've also stated previously, I believe Sarah Palin will happily endorse and support a Perry candidacy. Over at Conservatives4Palin the normally level headed Nicole Coulter couldn't spit out a post bashing Perry fast enough when the picture came out. Her post is full of sneering snide remarks and clips of Perry being less than graceful in several occassions.
Now imagine how the Democratic election machine is going to use these kinds of slams against a candidate Perry. All they'll need is someone to solemnly read the actual posts while running the videos and they've got a ready-made political commercial. A commercial made by over zealous conservatives dismantling one of their own.
Again, I've said this already -- bloggers like Michelle Malkin say they are vetting the Republican candidates unlike their Democratic counterparts in the last election. Wrong. You are destroying anyone and anyone who applies for the position, because no one can live up to the purity ideal set by those who don't actually have to run for office.
The common consensus is that the undecideds, the middle of the political spectrum voters, who will decide the election. Well, how are conservatives supposed to woo undecided voters when they present a candidate that they've spent the last year savaging at every turn? How are you going to convince an undecided voter to cast a vote for someone you've called a "thug" a "crony capitalist" and worse for over a year?
Examine each potential candidate's career. Go ahead and point out things that look like conficts of interest. Give us all the background you can find on each and everyone applying for the biggest job in the country. But the smarmy, snarky, holier-than-thou character assasinations have to stop. They serve no purpose except to embolden, empower, and arm those in the opposing party.
During the debate, Newt Gingrich said that everyone on the stage would rally behind the eventual candidate because their mission was to defeat the incumbant President. At this rate, whoever is left standing, will have already been defeated by his/her own party.