To be fair … I do some amount of public speaking and have occasionally had a brain cramp. Just last week, an unexpectedly raucous response to a throwaway joke threw me off my stride. But experienced speakers — and Perry is one — have ways of recovering. You combine this with his prior debate performances and his drunken syrup speech, and the impression is of a candidate who is just winging it. (Not that he’s the only one who gives that impression). If the Bush years taught us anything, it’s that the ability to communicate ideas is one of the most critical aspects of a presidency.
The other thing I take from this is that Perry hasn’t really invested a lot of thought in which department he would keep and which he would cut. His plan to cut three is just something to say. The actual departments he would cut are irrelevant since it’s very unlikely to very happen. Frankly, it seemed last night that Romney and Huntsman were the only ones to be thinking about how to govern and what actual policies to implement rather than what sounds good in a 30-second sound bite.
On its own, this gaffe would be amusing but meaningless. When you consider it in the context of an inept campaign, it’s an apotheosis of everything that’s gone wrong for Team Perry.