Texas Governor Rick Perry has endured a considerable amount of ribbing in the media for trying to give himself an intellectual look with his new glasses. But pundits and policy analysts say the glasses are more than just a cosmetic change; they say Perry’s IQ has actually increased, making him a formidable candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 if he decides to run.
“I asked Rick Perry what three federal agencies he wants to eliminate should he be elected president and he rattled them off like nothing,” says Charles Boyer, an analyst with the Hudson Institute in Washington. “Commerce, Education, and Energy. Boom. He nailed them.”
Perry was considered the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination in the 2012 race but a series of nationally televised gaffes, including his flubbed answer on the federal agencies he wanted to eliminate, quickly deflated his standing and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney went on to win the nomination.
“Perry certainly came off as pretty dumb when he ran in 2012,” says Len Smith of the Conservative Foundation. “But no one would make that mistake now. There’s something about him that’s just, I don’t know, smarter. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe he’s been doing more crossword puzzles, but the guy can really make his way through thick books now. In fact, I saw him with a book the other day. If I were planning to run against him in 2016, I wouldn’t dismiss him as an opponent.”
Mabel Feckler, a retired secretary in Rider, Texas, says she will definitely vote for Perry now that he’s smarter. “I wanted to vote for him in 2012, because I know what a good governor he’s been for these last 14 years. But I couldn’t because he just wasn’t being intellectual enough on the campaign trail. But now that he’s got his higher IQ and is kind of scholarly, I can feel good that he won’t be outsmarted by Vladimir Putin or those other guys.”
James Reynolds, a cognitive scientist at Duke University, estimates Perry’s IQ has jumped an entire standard deviation over the last 18 months and probably stands at 85 right now, maybe 100. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he could list six agencies he’d like to eliminate now,” says Reynolds. “It’s pretty clear he has the intellectual firepower to do that.”
Some worries remain among Republican strategists, though. One strategist who asked not to be identified, since he works with many Republican politicians and could work for Perry should he run, says he spoke with Perry recently when the governor wasn’t wearing his new glasses. “He was back to the dumb old Perry,” the strategist says. “So, we have more work to do. He might want to wear a tweed jacket or even pretend to smoke a pipe like Sartre and Camus—oh, wait, they’re both French. In any case, I’m just saying we’re not there yet. We’ve made a great start and have something to build on. But we need to get that IQ up another standard deviation. Luckily, we still have another year to complete this project.”
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