“Niggerhead” Scandal: The End For Perry?

As the Washington Post reported this weekend:

In the early years of his political career, Rick Perry began hosting fellow lawmakers, friends and supporters at his family’s secluded West Texas hunting camp, a place known by the name painted in block letters across a large, flat rock standing upright at its gated entrance.

“Niggerhead,” it read.

Ranchers who once grazed cattle on the 1,070-acre parcel on the Clear Fork of the Brazos River called it by that name well before Perry and his father, Ray, began hunting there in the early 1980s. There is no definitive account of when the rock first appeared on the property. In an earlier time, the name on the rock was often given to mountains and creeks and rock outcroppings across the country. Over the years, civil rights groups and government agencies have had some success changing those and other racially offensive names that dotted the nation’s maps.

But the name of this particular parcel did not change for years after it became associated with Rick Perry, first as a private citizen, then as a state official and finally as Texas governor. Some locals still call it that. As recently as this summer, the slablike rock – lying flat, the name still faintly visible beneath a coat of white paint – remained by the gated entrance to the camp…

In the aftermath of this story, the presidential campaign of Rick Perry has gone into full-scale damage control mode, insisting that the slab painted with the word “Niggerhead” at the entrance to his hunting ranch had been painted over in the 1980s–a claim disputed by the Washington Post based on eyewitness testimony, one former worker at the ranch claiming it was visible “as recently as 2008.” Primary opponent Herman Cain has condemned the name of Perry’s hunting ranch as “insensitive,” and Perry himself (obviously) isn’t trying to defend it so much as he is running from it as fast as he can. There’s no question it’s a distraction the already-flagging Perry campaign doesn’t need, and will further repulse Republican voters in Northern states like New Hampshire–who already aren’t plussed by a perceived intellectual lightweight Texas governor. How about an intellectual lightweight racist redneck Texas governor?

That would make it official: the Republican ticket is ready for a new savior.

The reason that this story is so damaging for Perry is in large part because it is both simple and memorable. Rick Perry’s Family Ranch was Called “Niggerhead”. Was it still called “Niggerhead” two years ago? 10 years ago? We understand the spin that Perry’s camp is trying to do here, but it really doesn’t make that much difference when they may have tried to paint over the name. It’s Perry’s family ranch, it’s been there for awhile, and you can apparently see the name even though it was painted-over. This story is so easy to use to bludgeon Perry in advertisements that it will likely be absolutely crippling to his campaign, no matter what they say about it. There’s no amount of spin that will fix this now; Team Perry needed to stop this from coming out in the first place. This horse will not go back into any barn any time soon.

One thing we should note in Gov. Perry’s possible defense. Perry has a close friend and hunting partner in former Colorado gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis–each has bragged about trips hunting with the other, so it’s a reasonable assumption that McInnis has been to, uh, “Niggerhead.” Somebody should ask McInnis if he ever saw the “Niggerhead” sign Perry claims was painted over in the 1980s, right? Did Perry ever mention the sign over a beer on the hunt? Discuss having gotten rid of it? Acknowledged it was a stupid thing for a politician to display?

Don’t ask McInnis if he wrote it, just ask if he ever saw it.

42 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. sxp151 says:

    and he’s already running for President and has condemned it.

    Most other Republicans are thinking to themselves that Rick Perry really understands them.

  2. cunninjo says:

    I understand the implications of this story are certainly worthy of discussion on this site, but looking at this webpage right now I count  uses of the term N***head.

    Is that really necessary?

    Perhaps I’m being too sensitive, but it seems a bit hypocritical for CO Pols to condemn Perry for the sign when you feel the need to repeat the name over and over unnecessarily.  

  3. Ralphie says:

    No problem among the audience he’s trying to reach to get the nomination.

  4. ProgressiveCowgirl says:

    Is mostly the same as the base of support for flying Confederate flags to “honor history” right?

  5. RedGreen says:

    a Democrat when this sign was displayed? He’s moved on from a lot of ’80s dalliances.  

  6. ArapaGOP says:

    Coming on the heels of unsteady debate performances, he didn’t need this.

    I believe it’s unfounded and he removed it when he said he did, but if he wants to save himself a stronger response will be needed.

    I don’t think Perry is who you should be worried about today though.

    • RedGreen says:

      That’s right. Herman Cain is ascendant and will wipe the floor with you thin-crust libs.

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      that are going to come out of the Republicans closet for quite a while.

      Romney is probably the most vetted but we’ll probably find out a lot more about him and the companies he chopped up and sold while making his fortune at Bain.

      The rest are full of hidden secrets that are going to come out as the opponents do research on each other.

      This is the kind of scrutiny that Obama has already been through and the Ayers story is old old news.  It is an incumbent advantage to have already gone through the vetting process and been stripped naked in public.

      It will be interesting to see how the Republican circus deals with their undressing.  Bachmann disappeared from the charts after the Migraine story.

  7. caroman says:

    First, he says he painted over the offensive word with white paint.  Then, he says he turned the stone over.

    Hmmm,  why didn’t he just get rid of the offensive stone (unless, of course, it wasn’t offensive to him).

    PS, why would anyone believe what McIinnis says?

  8. cologeek says:

    of the offending rock?  I mean we have a description of it, but no photograph?  One would think that such evidence would be at the top of the Posts story.

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      You can’t see God either but you believe he is instructing you to criminalize womens health care and make half the population of the country wards of a nanny state.

      Pretty selective set of beliefs on what’s real and what isn’t.

      • cologeek says:

        Now if you could only tie it in to reality.  

        • Gilpin Guy says:

          colocreep gets cold cocked about his need to see the proof with his own eyes to believe and instead coming back with any kind of a logical reply why, all he/she/it can come back with is “you’re irrational”.

          Everyone admits there was a rock with a racial epithet on it but colocreep won’t accept that because he hasn’t seen it with his own eyes.  I don’t think I’m the one who isn’t tethered to reality.  Reality has a liberal bias because liberals don’t keep trying to deny the facts of this earthly existence.

          • cologeek says:

            You can’t see God either but you believe he is instructing you to criminalize womens health care and make half the population of the country wards of a nanny state.

            When you can’t make a coherent argument, make shit up and lather lovingly on your opponent.

            Like I said, what an imagination.

  9. cologeek says:

    Does anyone else find this thread remotely ironic given the quote heading yesterdays open thread?

    • Aristotle says:

      Perry isn’t being unjustly abused. Or justly abused, for that matter.

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      we live in a totally post-ironic age.

      Having said that, I hesitate to agree with you — I’d like to see a picture of the offending rock to inform my own judgment.  No doubt that the rock exists, but I’d kind of like to have an idea as to it’s scale, etc., etc.

      And no, I don’t think this is going to change anyone’s mind about Perry one way or the other.  Perry was bound to lose his high level of initial support, one way or another, as folks came to see him for the shadow he is.  Vetting is a merciless bitch . . .  

  10. ScottP says:

    Why make up stories about when or how it was painted over? When there’s something this controversial, the truth will come out eventually.

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