History / Politics

Rick Perry, Galileo Galilei and a Republican Sun Orbiting Earth

by brian boru

Author’s note: As we eagerly await the president’s second debate with the Republican nominee, we reprise this gem from September of 2011.  We should not forget the orbit from whence the GOP nominee comes!


At last night’s GOP debate, Politico’s Mike Allen asked Gov. Rick Perry which scientists he found most credible on the subject of climate change. While no one expected the befuddled ignoramus to actually name a scientist, what would follow was truly extraordinary.

The rather simply query triggered what must have been a significant neurological event as the governor spewed forth one of the most garbled, fatuous run on sentences ever uttered by a non hydrocephalic.

Punctuating his otherwise unpunctuatable sentence was Perry’s pig shit Texas drawl.  Stupid’s force multiplier.

Here is that extraordinary sentence:

“Well, I do agree that, ah, there is, that the science is not settled on this; the idea that we would put Americans’ economy at, at, at jeopardy, ah, based on scientific theory that’s not, ah, settled yet, is, to me, is just nonsense; I me, ah, ah , I tell somebody, ‘just because you have a group of scientists that have stood up and said, here is the fact, Galileo got outvoted for a spell.'”



Humanist Cafe has among its readership many excellent writers.  I invite the intrepid or masochistic among you to diagram that mangled mess masquerading as a sentence.

To those of us versed in the disciplines of English and Science, that is to say having completed a GED or passed a citizenship exam, Perry’s answer was incredible. He’d managed to butcher a language, bash science and bungle an analogy in one terrifying fell swoop.

As Perry hyperventilated toward his dramatic ungrammatic finish, he strained to analogize his anti-science stance with the experience of Galileo Galilei – the Father of Modern Science!  With his half-constructed, half-witted comparison, Perry had completed his violent rape of Mother English with the subsidiary benefit of having defiled the memory of a 17th Century liberal elite.  The Republican daily double.

How, exactly, does the Galileo analogy buttress Perry’s anti-science stance?  It is not easy to decipher.  The absurdity that Perry was apparently trying to convey is that the lonely, misunderstood Exxon scientist who decries global warming is today’s Galileo while Nobel Laureates who espouse climate change theory are akin to backward reactionaries of the late renaissance Church.

It seems the Exxon scientist, like Galileo, is just ahead of his time and has been ‘outvoted for a spell’.  His vindication, like the end times, is surely coming.

Could there be a more inapt, offensive comparison?  Galileo spent his life fighting the forces of ignorance who would have myth and magic explain the world around them.  It was heliocentric theory that had him dragged before the Inquisition and found “vehemently suspect of heresy”.

Dr. Exxon is no Galileo.  He is, in fact, Galileo’s antagonist, the Grand Inquisitor.  The Church reactionary who would have the people suspend their disbelief for an all powerful church – in Dr. Exxon’s case for an all powerful oil industry – or face the burning stake.  Perry got the analogy precisely backwards.

He’s perfectly happy with backwards – he is a proud, ignorant Bagger.   And, it is in his world, the Bagger System, that the sun revolves around the earth.

In the Bagger System, myths and magical gods explain all things.  There is the free market god who fixes homelessness, hunger and poverty.  There is the deregulation god, who fixes joblessness.  There is, of course, the no taxes god who fills government coffers and fixes the deficit.  There are lesser gods too, but these are the three main gods and they report to Almighty God – a conservative to be sure.  It is He who bequeathed to his chosen people the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and predatory capitalism, praise be his name!

Galileo died in 1642.  He might surprised to learn that the ideas of his tormentors live on lo these 370 years later – in this ever so strange era of American politics.

When I’m a hundred years old and my great grandson asks me about America’s Teabag Era, I’m going to sit him down and read to him Rick Perry’s Galileo sentence and then ask him please to never speak of it again.


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