This story bears some analysis.
First, the obvious question: Why did the guy have a Ruger .380 with him when he was out running?
According to this CNN profile, Perry "often carries a gun on the [jogging] trails because of snakes and other wildlife." Like so many things in the world of politics, this makes sense until you think about it.
We at the Egg were not always city rats, much less sedentary bloggers living in Mom's basement and surviving on Chee-Tos. On the contrary, we used to spend a lot of time in the woods. Woods full of wildlife, including snakes and bears. Our experience was that most animals were happy to stay out of our way, if we were making enough noise so that they could hear us coming. Snakes, a common enough trail hazard, would strike only when threatened. In practice, this means that you had to stumble over them. And by definition, if you have stumbled over them, you didn't see them. In which case, they bit you before you could blow them away like Dirty Harry. So a gun was a lot less helpful than the ability to watch your step.
We're sure that, to a certain kind of voter, the idea of a politician cautious enough to watch his step seems unattractive, smacking of cowardice. We, however, are impressed by circumspection and discretion -- just the sort of personality traits that might have spared our nation from Iraq (or even Viet Nam). A pity Perry seems to lack them.
For the record, Perry's gun is a small automatic, weighing in at under 10 ounces. We'd smirk and call it a lady's gun, but honestly, it was designed for concealed carry by the police. The governor does have a license. An earlier version was recalled for safety reasons -- it tended to go off unexpectedly. (Which fact alone makes it something no sane person would tuck into his waistband, least of all when trail running.) After the Perry incident, the manufacturer released a commemorative Coyote Special Edition. Classy, right?
So, okay. Ten ounces is small for a gun gun. But for a runner's toy, it's huge. The other day, we heard a couple of heavy-duty athletes (one of them a professional) talking about running, and they were debating whether they could stand the extra weight and balance problems associated with carrying an iPod Nano. Which weighs an ounce or two, if that.
From all of which we conclude that Gov. Perry is not all that serious about running.
If he were, he would find places to run that don't seem to require the presence of a big old lump of steel strapped to the gubernatorial waist. Say what you will about Bush Jr., he was at least serious about fitness, which he pursued with more practical equipment: mountain bikes, running shoes. Perry, on the other hand, sounds to us like the kind of guy who goes on a weekend backpacking trip with a giant black-painted Rambo survival knife on his belt, when he really needs a Victorinox Spartan tucked into his pocket.
Or maybe this: Rick Perry is like the burly gentleman we saw in the airport the other day, wearing his (branded) 9.11 Tactical shirt and pants with hidden ammo pockets and quick-draw vents, as if to advertise that he was a Big Tough Undercover Cop. (Not the sort of thing one normally advertises, by the way). We mentioned this to a battle-hardened narcotics investigator and SWAT member, who rolled his eyes and said "The guy's a dope. When I get on a plane, I look like an accountant."
So Rick Perry strikes us as, at the very least, a less-than-serious-athlete. And more likely a wannabee.
Of course, there's more.
This guy thinks the coyote shooting is an illustration of why Perry can and will win the presidential election: because Perry has "core convictions" and sees the world "in very simple terms." These, of course, are precisely the things that one could also say of George W. Bush. And, lest anybody ever forget, it was Bush's convictions (even when they contrasted with facts) and Bush's ability to reduce the world to (unrealistically) simple terms -- both combined with the desperate need of a pampered preppie to feel as tough as his father, the bomber pilot turned Cold War spymaster -- which led to the disastrous Iraq adventure. The thought of another president who prefers his own convictions to empirical evidence ought to be terrifying to all of us, and especially to traditional conservatives -- who value, or used to value, things like circumspection and discretion.
On another note entirely, he CNN profile also talks about Perry's famous 2009 hint that Texas might secede from the United States of America. We aren't to take this seriously, says a Perry defender named Bill Murchison, who tells us that "the governor was. Being. Funny."
This would be more convincing if it came from anybody -- anybody -- except Bill Murchison, who as regular readers know is a neo-Confederate, with connections to an organization that actively promotes the secession of the entire South. That's like having Nikita Kruschev drop by the courtroom to explain that the Rosenbergs are innocent. With friends like these, you need new friends.