Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert points out that political statements and even political facts these days don't have to be true — all they need, Colbert insists, is some element of "truthiness."
This seems to be the strategy of Texas yee-hawer Rick Perry. In the early Republican presidential debates, he's shown that he's simply no good at getting his mind around true facts, so he makes up his own.
For example, he was stung recently when other candidates charged that a lobbyist for Merck got him to mandate in 2007 that all Texas pre-teen girls be vaccinated with an anti-cancer drug — a drug that Merck just happens to sell.
Uh-uh, the governor retorted, it was not the drug lobbyist that prompted his action, but the heart-rending pleas of a cancer patient who'd come into his office. "I got lobbied by a 31-year-old young lady," Perry slapped back at his critics.
How truthy. The lady was real and she did indeed visit with him in his office. But not before he issued his gubernatorial order on behalf of Merck. It was not until three weeks later that Perry first met her! So the assertion that he was motivated by humanitarian compassion is untrue, false, a fib ... a lie.
Perry's story is further stained by the actual fact that as he was preparing to do this sweeping favor for Merck, the drug maker deposited a $5,000 campaign donation in his pocket. When this was brought up in another debate, Perry tightened into a purity pose and snapped that he was "offended" by the suggestion that he could be bought for $5,000.
Perry thought this retort put the Merck issue to rest, but instead it sounded as though he were setting a price floor for other corporate funders, signaling that maybe $6,000 would not offend him.
Perry needs to heed the advice of baseball great Ted Williams:
"If you don't think too good, don't think too much."
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.