Everyone who follows politics remembers the moment in the November 9, 2011, debate when Rick Perry couldn't remember one of the three cabinet agencies he wanted to abolish. That agency was the Department of Energy, and now Donald Trump has chosen Perry to lead it. The Senate is holding a hearing on his confirmation on Thursday.
"I will tell you, it's three agencies of government when I get there that are gone. Commerce, education, and the, um, what's the third one there..." Perry couldn't name the third one. When pressed by the moderator to name the third agency, he responded, "I can't, sorry. Oops."
As Chris Hayes points out, the clip is "worse than you can possibly remember." Perry could have quickly changed the subject, but instead he kept circling back to trying to name the third agency. It made for almost a minute of excruciating television.
The thing that made this clip so devastating was that it reinforced negative stereotypes of Perry as all hat and no cattle when it comes to policy issues. Everyone makes mistakes. But if a man can't even remember which three agencies he'd abolish, it made people wonder whether he had put enough thought into the details of just how he'd abolish them.
Now instead of abolishing the Department of Energy, Perry will — if confirmed by the Senate — be leading it.