It was a hero America needed, a hero central to his time, a man whose personality might suggest contradiction and mysteries which could reach into the alienated circuits of the underground, because only a hero can capture the secret imagination of a people, and so be good for the vitality of his nation…
-- Norman Mailer
This past Saturday afternoon, Texas Governor Rick Perry ambled up to the main stage in Charleston, South Carolina, in that unique march-like stride, a firm, upbeat, stout trot, to announce his presidential campaign launch. And before him stood throngs of supporters, packed for the annual RedState Gathering, howling at his every remonstration against the dangerous course the leader in the White House had been swerving the country through since January '09. He began, like his predecessor, dropping dues at the altar of conservative purity, before spreading his wings to reach all corners of the country he hopes in 15 months to be elected president of.
On camera, Perry channels the souls of two conservative icons, Reagan and Bush II, resurrected this time with coiffed wavy hair, a brick face, wooden smile, perched on broad shoulders, which sway the body like a general leading his men through enemy ranks. His wife, unsurprisingly, could pass for Thatcher in her prime, and his kids the very candle of White Christian Perfection.
Less than a minute into his mini revival, Perry invokes the Navy SEALs downed last week in Afghanistan as an emblem of the sort of president he would be, one unashamed of the "selfless, sacrificial" tasks military men and women take up daily in defense of the "last great hope of mankind."
Tolu Olorunda is a writer and cultural critic currently living in Detroit, Michigan. He is also author of The Substance of Truth (Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, 2011), a collection of essays on education, culture, and society. His writing has appeared widely online and in print, including Alternet, Black Commentator, ColorLines, The Nation, Truthout, PowerPlay: A Journal of Educational Justice, and the Review of Education, Pedagogy & Cultural Studies. He can be reached at: [email protected].