Rick Perry in the Arena

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Teddy Roosevelt

When Governor Rick Perry tossed his hat into the Presidential ring, he said he was joining the race at his wife, Anita Perry’s urging. Perry believed it was his duty to run and was answering the question President Kennedy had asked Americans 50 years prior in his inaugural address: “ask what you can do for your country.”

Was Perry ready to run for President? No. His stumbles on the campaign reflect that reality. Is he ready to be President? Yes. His impressive record of conservative governance and Texas’ dominating economic growth attest to his strong leadership. There is an important distinction between these two questions. When President Reagan ran for President in 1980, he took on the Republican establishment and the country-club wing of the party. And he won. Yet Reagan benefited from already having run for President in 1976.

There is a steep learning curve to running for President of the United States. Gov. Perry’s success in winning the nomination will in large part reflect how fast he adjusts to this curve. He is not a particularly skillful debater, but he is improving rapidly. Perry, like every candidate, has his critics and baggage (yes I know about gardasil and in state tuition for illegals), but unlike the other candidates, Perry possesses vast executive experience (sorry Ron, Michelle and Santorum), a consistently conservative record (sorry Mitt, Newt and Huntsman) and a genuinely enthusiastic persona and endearing and inspiring charisma.

Perry’s military experience is an important asset also. How refreshing it would be to have a commander-in-chief who has actually led American servicemen, understands military culture, knows the difference between Veteran’s day and Memorial Day and how to correctly pronounce the Marine “corps.” Perry ‘s experience leading airmen during the Cold War and commanding 20,000 troops as Commander-in-Chief of the Texas National Guard for the past decade will serve him well as President. Further, Perry has developed a good grasp of foreign policy.

Allow me to review Perry’s more serious GOP opponents by first examining the Hermanator. I like Herman Cain, but he is just not ready to be President. Just ask him about Libya, China’s nuclear capability or perhaps any other country for that matter. Having a political record can be a deal-killer, but in Cain’s case, the absence of policy experience is soul-crushing his candidacy. Cain has shown poor judgment by who he’s surrounded himself with on his senior staff. Mark Block anyone? This repeat DUI offender is managing (or mismanaging to be more accurate) his campaign by releasing the bizarre smoking ad, blaming the Perry campaign, then the DNC for the sexual harrassment leaks to the Politico all without providing a shred of evidence. Worst of all, illegally launching Cain’s campaign as a 501(c)(3). This egregious mistake raises an integrity flag (and stupidity flag quite frankly) for Cain and will permanently derail the Cain train provided it ever gets back on the track.

I like Newt also. He’s brilliant and can articulate conservatism probably better than anyone. But Newtapotamus has not walked the walk and been a consistent conservative. He was for the individual mandate before he was against it. He claims he is an agnostic when it comes to man-made climate change. Seriously man? Show some backbone! Newt is too intelligent not to see the man-made global warming hoax. He excoriated Paul Ryan’s medicare reform plan before backtracking and apologizing. That’s not principled leadership or being a team player for that matter. Newt has shown exceptionally poor judgment in his personal life. He has demonstrated through his adultery an integrity deficiency. I believe Newt when he says he sought repentance and forgiveness. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore his past. If multiple wives could not trust Newt, I’m not so certain the American people, particularly American women, will either.

Which brings me to Mitt. I cannot say I like Mittens. I sympathize that he governed a dark blue state, but Romneycare is just terrible, and we all know it was the prototype for Obamacare. The man has not shown that he’s learned from his mistakes. Mitt supported abortion on demand, yet now he’s pro-life. Like Newt, he’s flipped-flopped on climate change, had a lousy immigration record (free healthcare for illegals) and can’t tell the truth about his book (how he quietly removed a paragraph in favor of nationalizing Romneycare from one edition to the next). He’s displayed no desire to be a transformative leader or offer bold ideas. Romney can’t even find it within himself to support a flat tax. But he has said he wants the tax code to be flatter. Classic Mitt. Romney is an uninspiring, tune-up kind of politician. But Washington doesn’t need a tune up. It needs the wrecking ball that Perry has recognized and called for.

Which is easier to repair? Style or substance? A candidate’s ability to sell himself or his ability to be bought by the establishment wing of the party? I’ll take the guy with substance over style. Perry can and will continue to improve his debate performances. Rick Perry, having courageously entered the arena, has taken some shots and been bloodied by the drive-by media and by his own mistakes on the trail.

Now is the critical moment conservatives must rally around Rick Perry and jump into the arena to fight for him. This means all conservatives who have the ability and means should travel to Iowa and work to help Perry win the caucuses. Entering the arena means boldly proclaiming your support for Governor Perry and defending him through financial contributions, letters to the editor, call ins to talk radio, Facebook posts, political discussions at the office water cooler, etc. We have the opportunity to send a consistent, passionate conservative to the White House. But in order to do so, conservatives must exit the stands and enter the fray. Doing so will be difficult and will require sacrifice. But just about all things worthwhile in life are hard. Freedom isn’t free. I have a beautiful wife and two young children. God has blessed my family tremendously through this country. I’ve been privileged to serve in our armed forces and defend our freedom in Iraq as an Army officer. I am passionate about this country and our future. So what kind of country will we leave our children and grandchildren? I don’t want to look back at life and have any regrets.

As a result, I have bought an airline ticket to Des Moines and will be campaigning for Gov. Perry leading up the caucuses. If Perry is going to re-emerge and win the nomination, then he needs an early win in Iowa. He needs fellow conservatives fighting alongside him in the fray. Will you join me in entering the arena?