Paul Rahe at Ricochet is concerned, or concern-trolling, that Rick Perry’s down-home folksiness may not play very well in venues where the people consider themselves more sophisticated. [h/t Simberg]

Perry was folksy throughout [his announcement speech – ed.] – and that worries me a bit. The tone of the speech and the manner of delivery were pitch-perfect for Texas. I am not, however, certain that this will play for a national audience. […] Perry will have to pitch his argument to an audience that thinks itself more sophisticated. I am not arguing that the city slickers really are more sophisticated; I am arguing that they are in the grips of a powerful prejudice against people from places like Paint Creek.

Rahe need not concern himself. Rick Perry is an Aggie — a graduate of Texas A&M, and a member of the Corps of Cadets there, which is a sort of Aggie’s Aggie. Even as a (self-declared) Oklahoman, Rahe may not be fully aware of the dynamic involved.

Aggies have always been considered “hick”, crude, unsophisticated, since the time the school was founded as the Agricultural & Mechanical College. There is a long list of “Aggie Jokes”, mostly recycled putdowns of the Polish and Italians. Test scores and grades in higher mathematics at Texas A&M have gone down precipitously. What happened? — the professors started making the students wear shoes to class. That sort of thing, and worse, is current in all seriousness at the University of Texas — which, by no coincidence whatever, is located in Austin, the Capital. The folks at UT are pretty much an existential definition of “…an audience that thinks itself more sophisticated…”

There are a fair number of Aggies who have made a living off that prejudice, with the exemplar being Judson “Lou” Loupot, founder of a bookstore that was the official University franchise until B&N paid high for that privilege. Loupot’s always carried a wide range of Aggie-joke material, from books and pamphlets to posters and costumes, and based on that example, Aggies are the prime fount of Aggie jokes — and become, more or less in self-defense, adept at damaging critics using self-deprecation.

Rick Perry is very definitely in that tradition. He could not have gained any statewide office, let alone Lieutenant Governor or Governor, without being so. As such, he is highly skilled at adjusting his delivery and presentation to fit the audience. It is only on rare occasions that he will trim the material or the point to fit expected prejudice, but if you expect him to cower when attacked on grounds of lack of sophistication you have a big surprise coming. Whether the surprise is pleasant or not will depend on your political orientation, of course.

Rahe goes on to make some recommendations regarding future tactics, many of which are good to excellent. They are probably pretty much wasted, though. It would be very surprising indeed to discover that Perry or his staff haven’t thought of most of them, and more, already. Aggies do that.

 

 

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