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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Rick Perry’s recent debate breakdown and Herman Cain’s sexual harassment debacle say a great deal about Republicans’ intellect and morality. E.J. Dionne writes in his new column, “The True Conservative Scandal”:

Conservatives need to contemplate what the Rick Perry and Herman Cain stories say about the state of their movement and the health of their creed.

Perry’s debate gaffe last week was about something more important than “brain freeze.” Memory lapses can strike anyone, and Perry probably helped his cause a bit by poking fun at himself at Saturday’s CBS News/National Journal debate and on the David Letterman show.

What really matters is the subject that sent Perry’s brain into lockdown. He was in the middle of describing sweeping changes in the federal bureaucracy closely connected to his spare vision of American government. One presumes a candidate for president ponders such proposals carefully, discusses them with advisers and understands their implications.

Forgetting an idea at the heart of your program, in other words, is not the same as forgetting a phone number, a friend’s name, a football score or the title of a recently read book.

Perry’s memory lapse showed that he wasn’t asserting anything that he is truly serious about because he is not serious about what government does, or ought not to do. For him, governing seems a casual undertaking.

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Marchers at January 22 anti-vaccination demonstration in Washington, D.C>

Back when it was first gaining traction in the 1990s, the anti-vaccination movement was largely considered a far-left thing, attracting believers ranging from barter-fair hippies to New Age gurus and their followers to “holistic medicine” practitioners. And it largely remained that way … until 2020 and the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As this Sunday’s “Defeat the Mandates” march in Washington, D.C., however, showed us, there’s no longer anything even remotely left-wing about the movement. Populated with Proud Boys and “Patriot” militiamen, QAnoners and other Alex Jones-style conspiracists who blithely indulge in Holocaust relativism and other barely disguised antisemitism, and ex-hippies who now spout right-wing propaganda—many of them, including speakers, encouraging and threatening violence—the crowd at the National Mall manifested the reality that “anti-vaxxers” now constitute a full-fledged far-right movement, and a potentially violent one at that.

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