Matt Yglesias writes of Rick Perry's new book: "This is a great example of the plague of rhetoric excess that has taken over the American right ever since the inauguration of Barack Obama. I don’t believe for a minute that Rick Perry is fed up with motor vehicle safety inspections, bans on private ownership of shoulder-launched missiles, regulation of nuclear power plants, or any of this other stuff."
I think Yglesias is probably right. I highly doubt Perry is "fed up" with this stuff. He's probably frustrated at the idea of these sorts of regulations at a time when a Democrat he doesn't like is in power - I could believe that. I believe the general regulation-aversion (which is reasonable) gets especially emotional when you feel like a socialist is in the White House. But I also highly doubt these things bother Rick Perry.
This is not to see there aren't some regulations that could be trimmed back - of course there are. But everyone agrees about that. The point is, there's a "rhetorical excess" as Yglesias puts it - like pro-lifers calling abortion a "holocaust" or libertarians calling taxation "theft" or liberals calling Wall Street bankers "criminal" that is politically and ideologically convenient and comforting, as well as implausible.
There was actually a great Jon Stewart interview of Rick Perry Monday night that I thought went really well for Perry. So Jon made the obvious point that Perry implicitly accepts some role for government and that's all fine with me - but Perry made some excellent points on the value of federalism and the threats to real, robust federalism in the modern era (and he of course cites specific instances under the Obama administration, of which I'm sure there are many). I'm not a Perry-hater. He seemed like a good guy, and the point he kept hitting was federalism rather than libertarianism - and I think that instinct is good. Still, I think Yglesias is probably right to call BS on some of this. Perry is not bothered by many of these regulations nor are most Americans.
But it sure makes for good book sales (or blog posts) to pretend you care, or even to convince yourself that you care.
UPDATE: Out of curiosity - do I ever do this on any issue? Do I state anything with more urgency than you think I actually, truly feel about it?