Last night, during the Sioux City Republican Debate, in a truly perfect storm of the interests and content of this Blog, Rick Perry expressed his interest to be the Tim Tebow of the Republican race. In his response to a question that challenged his ability to debate Obama, and his ability to compete on the national scale, Perry gave a fascinating answer. He began by saying that he's actually starting enjoying the debates, that he wanted to debate Obama quite a bit, and that he would even show up to said debates "early," and "get it on" with Obama. All of his was answer performed with a lilting cadence, punctuated by "you knows" that perhaps belied his claim of comfort with debates. Perry, of course, had a notable gaffe in an earlier debate, when he failed to remember a third government agency that he wished to cut. Perry then drew an analogy between Tim Tebow's success on the college level, and his success in Texas as the "national champion" of job creation. Then he argued that people who placed doubt in Tebow's ability to have success in the pro's because of his "throwing, um, mechanisms" and "not playing the game right," were similar to his doubters, and he wants to be the Tim Tebow of the Iowa caucuses.
Perry's analogy is both misplaced and apt at the same time. It's misplaced because Perry was a highly touted presidential prospect, he had the gaudy attributes, an ability to raise a tremendous amount of money, that Tebow's doubters argued he didn't possess. At the same time it's relatively on point, because both Tebow and Perry often resemble train wrecks, Perry's stumbles in debates reminiscent of Tebow bouncing throw after throw in the dirt. What remains to be seen is whether Perry has the same flair for a dramatic come from behind win that has become Tebow's hallmark
The analogy also works on a second level for a Republican debate, Tebow is a staunch conservative. Tebow first came under fire for his appearance in an anti-abortion ad, similarly Perry has recently become an internet meme with his ad decrying gay marriage, and the godless spiral Obama has sent the country into. Both Perry and Tebow eschewed conventional wisdom and political correctness for red meat towards the Republican base. That Tebow is a football player, as opposed to a politician, only underlines how strange the media narrative about his story has been. Irrespective of the relative saliency of Perry's point, it illustrates how ingrained into the public consciousness Tebow has become. Sports analogies have a long tradition in politics, but for a politician to invoke a specific person as opposed to a generality, i.e. "hit a grandslam," means that person has become a cultural touchstone, immediately evoking a hole host of traits. In a weird way both these gentleman reflect a Republican conception of the underdog. Perry, as governor of a large state, and Tebow, as a major college quarterback, are not people who would traditionally be seen as underdogs, but they've been underestimated by the lamestream media. They reflect a conception that Republicans seem to hold of the white male being disadvantaged by current climate of the country. Thus far Tebow has overachieved, while Perry as underachieved, but as both these men would say, only God knows what the future holds for them.
P.S. Tim Tebow was miked up last week against the Bears and it's most amazing..http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06hPC8-rs5k