* Poker players in a tournament will often bet with each other on who will last longer/who will be eliminated first. Palin lost her last longer bet with Bachmann, who lost her bet with Cain and Huntsman.
Last night, at yet another Republican debate, Perry was still allowed to be on stage. Perhaps because of the expected entertainment value, given how badly he has performed at nearly every debate. So, Perry says that Turkey is run by terrorists since a moderate Islamic party has been in power and has distanced itself from Israel. Yes, this is part of the strange pandering the GOP has been doing lately, as the evangelical vote seems to be focused on supporting Israel blindly, enthusiastically, and without regard for any other interest that might be in play (such as supporting protest movements against dictators in the Middle East since our dictator friends are more supportive of Israel than democratically elected politicians might be).**
** This deserves an entirely separate post. Remind me if I forget.Anyhow, so Perry is so desperate to get attention that he says something incredibly stupid and offensive to a significant ally and an important bridge to the Arab world. The last Texas governor of national relevance, George W. Bush, was incredibly dysfunctional on a number of levels but at least he got the whole "we really ought not inflame the entire Islamic world too much as we ought to try to separate the extremists from the rest" idea--well, at least in his statements. Perry was either gambling for resurrection--that is, taking an extreme stance to get back in the conversation--OR he was continuing his usual debate behavior of being pretty dim. Indeed, the reason why his status of the leading not-Romney fell was due to his first major debate failures. The GOP didn't reject him because he is a nutcase (Santorum has done fine), but that he was deemed unelectable as he would be seen as a Bush dumber than Bush.
The sad thing is that the fifth candidate for the GOP nomination is making national and world news for saying stupid stuff about Turkey and Islam. Not that different from a random pastor burning a Koran, antagonizing Muslims around the world and sparking riots in Afghanistan that led to the deaths of members of the international community who had been doing some good. I am not suggesting that Perry is that irresponsible. Ok, I am suggesting that Perry is that irresponsible, unless being an idiot somehow makes him less responsible for his behavior.
I do think the problem is structural--with so many television hours to fill on competing news networks (plus competition from the internet), losers and those responsible for extreme policy failures (John Yoo, Dick Cheney, etc.) manage to get more media time than in the past (at least as far as I can remember). In such a competitive environment, asking the media to act responsibly and ignore the ramblings of the irrelevant is asking far too much.