Former aides to President George W. Bush are suggesting Texas Gov. Rick Perry is not presidential material in the wake of his comments yesterday that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke may be guilty of “treason” and would be treated “pretty ugly down in Texas.”
Former Bush Deputy Press Secretary Tony Fratto spoke out against Perry’s comments just moments after ThinkProgress first reported them, writing on Twitter that the they were “inappropriate and unpresidential.”
This morning, Nicolle Wallace, who served as White House Communications Director in Bush’s second term, said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe that “someone who wants to be the next president probably shouldn’t use these words” and agreed that Republicans should “lay off of some of this some personal stuff and keep it ideological.” “Not only is it going to maybe turn off some people in the middle, but these aren’t fights that are going to serve Perry well politically,” she added.
Key Bush aide Karl Rove appeared on Fox News later in the morning, where he called Perry’s comments “very unfortunate” and not “presidential“:
It’s his first time on the national stage, and it was a very unfortunate comment. You don’t accuse the chairman of the federal reserve of being a traitor to his country and being guilty of treason and suggesting that we treat him pretty ugly in Texas — that’s not, again, a presidential statement. [...] Governor Perry is going to have to fight the impression that he’s a cowboy from Texas, this simply added to it.
Peter Wehner, who served as Deputy Assistant to Bush and Director of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives, wrote a post on Commentary magazine’s blog calling the comments irresponsible “libel” and urged Perry to apologize for them:
People shouldn’t throw around the words “almost treasonous” loosely; and certainly a person running for president shouldn’t do such a thing. To say someone is treasonous means he is a traitor to his country. In the long catalogue of crimes an individual can commit, there are not many that are worse than treason. [...] But Perry should offer a substantive critique of Bernanke’s policies, not libel the man…it’s not helpful to our country. [...] In the meantime Perry ought to offer a retraction and apology — and then offer a serious intellectual critique of why he believes Ben Bernanke is pursuing injurious policies.
Bush’s and Perry’s supporters have clashed before, as many Bush aides supported Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s (R-TX) failed bid to oust Perry in a 2010 primary challenge, and this latest incident appears to confirm a growing rift between the camps. If Perry is too “cowboy” for even Bush loyalists, as Rove suggested, he’s taking cowboy politics to new heights.