Tenther Pole Dancing: Rick Perry let's it all hang out

Tenther Pole Dancing

by digby

Rick Perry really is just letting it all hang out:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry doubled down on his claim that President Barack Obama is a socialist during Sunday morning's GOP debate in New Hampshire.

"I make a very proud statement and a fact that we have a president that's a socialist," he said, in response to a question about whether he agrees with a 2011 editorial by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that said Obama should not be attacked as having un-American values.

The moderator asked if Perry agrees with that statement.

"I don't think that our founding fathers wanted America to be a socialist country," Perry continued. "So I disagree with that premise that somehow or another President Obama reflects our founding fathers. He doesn't. He talks about having a more powerful, more centralized, more consuming and costly federal government."

Perry said as governor he pushed for a stronger embrace of 10th Amendment, which says some powers should be left to the states rather than the federal government. "The states will considerably do a better job than Washington D.C. as led by this president," he said.

He's a Tenther all the way. And an idiot. You'd think he'd hit at least 15%.

But he does serve a purpose. By blithely calling Obama a socialist in presidential debates, he keeps the Democrats trying to prove they aren't. And you know what that means. It's a very effective ploy.

BTW: Apparently "tentherism" isn't commonly understood in liberal circles. Here's a good primer, more at the link:

When the right’s view of the Constitution was ascendant 75 years ago, basic protections such as a restriction on child labor were declared unconstitutional; laws banning discrimination were unthinkable; and Social Security was widely viewed as next in line for the Supreme Court’s chopping block.

America’s right now wants nothing more than to revive this discredited theory of the Constitution. These conservatives are over-reading the Tenth Amendment, a provision of the Constitution that provides Congress’s power is not unlimited. So-called “tenther” conservatives are determined to use their twisted reinterpretation to shrink national leaders’ power to the point where it can be drowned in a bathtub. They must not be allowed to succeed for three reasons:

Tentherism is dangerous. Monopolists seized control of entire industries during tentherism’s last period of ascendance. Workers were denied the most basic protections, while management happily invoked the long arm of the law when a labor dispute arose. Worst of all, Congress was powerless against this effort. And the Court swiftly declared congressional action unconstitutional when elected officials took even the most modest steps to protect workers or limit corporate power.

Tentherism has no basis in constitutional text or history. Nothing in the Constitution supports tenther arguments. And tenther claims are nothing new. Each of them was raised as early as the Washington administration, and each was rejected by George Washington himself.

Tentherism is authoritarian. Health reform, Social Security, and the Civil Rights Act all exist because the people’s representatives said they should exist. The tenthers express goal is to make the Supreme Court strip these elected representatives of power and impose a conservative agenda upon the nation.

The tenther agenda

In its strongest form, tentherism would eliminate most of the progress of the last century. It asserts that the federal minimum wage is a crime against state sovereignty, child labor laws exceed Congress’s limited powers, and the federal ban on workplace discrimination and whites-only lunch counters is an unlawful encroachment on local businesses. Many tenthers even oppose cherished programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

Tenthers divine all this from the brief language of the 10th Amendment, which provides that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” In layman's terms, this simply means that the Constitution contains an itemized list of federal powers—such as the power to regulate interstate commerce or establish post offices or make war on foreign nations—and anything not contained in that list is beyond Congress’s authority.

The tenther constitution reads each of these powers very narrowly—too narrowly, it turns out, to permit much of the progress of the last century. As the nation emerges from the worst economic downturn in three generations, the tenthers would strip away the very reforms and economic regulations that beat back the Great Depression, and they would hamstring any attempt to enact new progressive legislation.

Maybe that whole agenda is too extreme to win a national election. But as long as it's considered respectable for presidential candidates to believe it --- and dismiss those who disagree as "socialists" --- the rightward pole of our politics will continue to pull us way off center. This is a radical, right wing theory, as radical as it gets. And from Perry to Paul to Santorum to Gingrich to Romney, every last one of these would-be GOP presidents have adopted it at least to some extent. The two Texans, Perry and Paul, are true believers. They really do want to turn back the clock a hundred years.