Texas Gov. Rick Perry has True Grit

By DOUG IBENDAHL • August 16, 2011


RNW_John Wayne in True Grit_v2I’m usually not a big fan of movie remakes. But last year’s True Grit is a major exception. The only thing keeping me from saying it was hands down superior to the 1969 original is the original had John Wayne. (Not that Jeff Bridges wasn’t excellent in the remake. He was. But those are some big shoes to fill.)


The film, like the classic American novel on which it’s based, is told from the perspective of Mattie Ross. Her character was 14 when her father was murdered by a loser named Tom Chaney.


Mattie then seeks to hire a U.S. Marshall with “true grit” to help her track down Chaney in hostile territory and bring him to justice.


She of course finds the true grit she’s looking for in U.S. Marshall Rooster Cogburn.


Now more than ever the GOP needs to find a leader with true grit. We owe it to America.


Because even with an anemic economy, high unemployment, and America’s standing declining around the world, Republicans are kidding themselves if they assume it will be easy to beat Obama the incumbent next year. It won’t be. We’re in for a tough fight and it’s likely to be a very close election.


Who has the true grit we need? Well over the weekend Iowa Straw Poll voters quite reasonably decided that Tim Pawlenty didn’t, and now he’s gone.


I think Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, and Thaddeus McCotter have it. But I just don’t think they have the organization this time around. This simply isn’t their year. There’s no shame in that.


For all practical purposes it’s a three-way race now between Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, and Rick Perry. (Sarah Palin is probably the only other new entry who could muster the organization at this late date to be competitive, but it doesn’t look like she’ll be taking the plunge this time.)


And I think it soon becomes a two-way race between Romney and Perry. I’m including Bachmann for now because I do believe she deserves respect for winning the Iowa Straw Poll and that accomplishment shouldn’t be ignored.


Still, I’ll be shocked if Bachmann remains in the race by the time the Illinois Primary comes around in March. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s out after New Hampshire.


Does Mitt Romney have true grit? I say no. I don’t want to make too big of a deal out of the fact that while our state is tanking, the head of Romney’s campaign in Illinois, Dan Rutherford, rode the Giant Slide for the cameras not once but three times on Friday at the Illinois State Fair. But there is just something about that image that symbolizes the lack of substance and seriousness I see in Romney and his campaign.


In Texas I believe they refer to guys like Romney as “all hat and no cattle.”


Now what about Rick Perry?


Well, Perry sounded credible when he said in his announcement speech on Saturday: “We do not have to accept our current circumstances. We will change them. We are Americans. That’s what we do. We roll up our sleeves. We go to work. We fix things.”


That’s a man with true grit.


If you don’t know much about Governor Perry yet, check out the video of the 14 minute speech he gave yesterday at the Iowa State Fair. Perry has a natural ability to relate to an audience in a way you rarely see.


And yes, a man who jogs with a handgun which he used to put a coyote down with one shot after it threatened his dog last year – that man has true grit.


Doug Ibendahl is a Chicago Attorney and a former General Counsel of the Illinois Republican Party.


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