When the yell leader gets it wrong

Imagine your football team in the midst of losing on the field, and an opposing team player suffers a fatal injury. In response, a yell leader for your team begins a disrespectful chant at that very moment. Yuck, right? Then factor in that the yell leader was a player who hadn’t made the cut to stay on the field.

Okay, now you have the metaphorically apt description for what happened Sept. 12, when Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a former yell leader for Texas A&M, whose bid for the Republican presidential nomination crashed and burned with his goofy gaffes, issued his statement criticizing the President’s response to an attack in Libya that left three people, including an ambassador, dead.

“Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans are now dead in the chaos of a destabilized Middle East. President Obama said he ‘rejects’ these brutal acts, and condemns them in ‘the strongest terms’ – yet still acknowledges our attackers’ supposed justification. This kind of language broadcasts an impotent foreign policy that fostered this crisis in the first place,” Perry said, adding unhelpfully, “Combined with President Obama’s shameful lack of leadership in Egypt that culminated in the burning of our flag in our own embassy in Cairo yesterday, it is no wonder our enemies in the region are emboldened and our allies are afraid.”

Perry’s statements drew less national attention than those made by Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who criticized the U.S. embassy’s response to the attack by saying, “When our grounds are being attacked and being breached, [the] first response of the United States must be outrage at the breach of the sovereignty of our nation. An apology for America’s values is never the right course.”

Romney took a slamming for politicizing in a time of crisis and he refrained from the same tack the next day. But arguably his initial comments could be considered an understandable misstep made in the throes of a presidential campaign.

Perry, on the other hand, having just returned from a trip to Italy to promote Texas, faced no such pressures to speak out and instead gratuitously offered his thoughts on foreign policy. Since his days bumbling as a presidential candidate, one can hardly imagine anyone eager to have Perry lead the nation’s foreign policy. But beyond that consideration, Perry, as the first Aggie yell leader to become Texas governor in the state’s history, should think before he chants.