People have been calling Rick Perry’s inability to remember that he wants to close down the Department of Energy a “brain freeze.” To me a brain freeze is what you get when you drink your slurpee to fast. What happened to Perry is more like a brain lock– when you just can’t locate what you want to say– and they can happen to anyone. I find that I even have trouble with certain words. “Wisteria” is one of them, even though it’s one of my favorite plants. Sometimes the word just isn’t there.
So even though I’m hardly a Perry supporter I think he’s getting a raw deal on this one. We all have these kinds of moments under pressure. There’s even a scientific explanation for it in the story here. The key is to try to get past the moment without stumbling on it for to long or letting it fluster you. Which is easier to do if you’re not participating in a televised debate.
Going on David Letterman and making fun of himself seems like just the right strategy to me, too. His apparent ease and his timing with the jokes surprised me– it’s a much better performance than his role in the debates would lead you to expect. But that’s probably why everyone seems to have piled on this one incident. It seems like Perry has had to explain his mistakes and endure a starring role on Saturday Night Live after each of his debates and speeches. At this point it seems more like he’s doing a routine rather than running a campaign for president.