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Rick Perry: Gaffe-Prone Hick or Crafty Pol?

He's an unabashedly right-wing, cowboy-boot-wearing, twang-talkin' and farm-bred kind of a fella. But that doesn't mean he's stupid. Call it smarts -- cowboy smarts.

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Paul's language is rife with the phrases and catchwords of the John Birch Society, with all of its accusations of "tyranny" and very particular notions of "sovereignty," and cries to "end the Fed." It's a code that JBS-inspired libertarians understand. (Ron Paul is a JBS ally, and was the keynote speaker at the segregationist organization's 50th anniversary gala.) When Perry went accused the Fed chairman of perhaps being guilty of treason, he was appealing to Paul's constituency. One of the most influential tracts among John Birch Society members in the 1960s was John Stormer's book, None Dare Call it Treason, which warned of a dark conspiracy to take down American by, among other things, "planned inflation."

Perry's assertion, this past spring, that the 10th amendment -- a favorite of "states' rights" advocates -- would be the defining issue of the 2012 presidential election was a direct appeal to both the Tea Party movement and likely Ron Paul voters.

Rick Perry may be a lot of things, things that unnerve the national political press corps: an unabashedly right-wing, cowboy-boot-wearing, twang-talkin', farm-bred kind of a fella. But in any poker game between a top-tier political reporter and Rick Perry, my money's on Perry.

Adele M. Stan is AlterNet's Washington bureau chief. Follow her on Twitter:

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