It turns out that Texas governor Rick Perry, who has up to now shown little sign that he is anything other than a haircut in a suit, actually has a sense of humor. I'm not talking about that nutty prank he pulled when he signed anti-abortion and anti-gay-marriage bills on the grounds of an evangelical school earlier this month. I'm talking about Tuesday, when Perry puckishly waved off one of those damn pesky TV reporters with the words "Adios, Mofo." Trouble was -- and seriously, this'll just kill you -- the cameras were still rolling and the fun-loving chief exec still had a microphone clipped to his lapel.
I'm not saying Perry's dumb. (I'll leave that to populist flamethrower Jim Hightower, who once memorably said of Perry that he "couldn't spell 'IQ' if you spotted him the 'I'.") Because, come on, a professional politician couldn't possibly be that dim in this day and age, right? No, the way I have it figured, Perry was looking for a way to spark a little cottage industry among quick-thinking Texans like Dallasite Travis Fussell, who within 48 hours had set up an online shop selling "Adios, Mofo" merchandise ranging from beer steins to baby bibs. By midday today the gag had spread to 16 stores and 473 products at Web retailer Cafepress. I call that good old-fashioned bootstrap capitalism at work.
Mr. Irresponsible isn't one of those people who get the vapors when public officials use profanity or its linguistic offshoots. LBJ biographer Robert Caro has written about Johnson castigating his secretary in front of a roomful of political journalists, "using obscenities that shocked even these hard-bitten reporters," and man, don't think that isn't saying something. He also signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act. On balance, the tradeoff seems worth it. Humans express themselves in a variety of ways, we have a long and colorful history of bending the language to our needs, and the attempt to pretend that they don't occasionally go snappish and bite off a quick obscenity or two is one of the ways people in the public eye become ridiculous.
So here's to Rick Perry, who's managed to turn a frat boy's peevish sense of entitlement into a pretty good political career, and given the good people of Texas a little to smile about along the way. Hey, wait a minute... this sounds familiar.