No one seems to have any idea why Donald Trump chose Rick Perry to be the Secretary of Energy – including Rick Perry himself. He’s already admitted to not knowing what the agency does. For the most part, he’s been trying to lay low, while the rest of us sit around waiting for him to say stupid things. This one isn’t going to be quite as infamous as his 2012 debate “Oops” moment, but Perry’s latest gaffe is pretty far up the charts.
While testifying during congressional hearings about the Puerto Rico crisis, a visibly uncomfortable Rick Perry said that Puerto Rico is “a country that already had its challenges before the storm.” This prompted Congresswoman Kathy Castor to interrupt Perry, saying “Well it’s America. They’re American citizens, so it’s not a country.” Watch the video of Rick Perry calling Puerto Rico a country:
"Well, it's America. They're American citizens, so it's not a country"
Rick Perry is corrected after calling Puerto Rico a "country": pic.twitter.com/p7N2NEgDwq
— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 12, 2017
Rick Perry responded by pointing out that he had in fact referred to Puerto Rico as a “territory” earlier in his testimony, which in his view proved that he didn’t actually think it was a country, and that he had simply misspoken when he went on to refer to it in that way. The moment was a reminder of just how low the bar has been set by Perry’s bumbling political career; he had to clarify that he didn’t actually believe the dumb thing he had just said.
Nonetheless, the moment serves to unwittingly sum up the public’s view of the Donald Trump administration’s handling of the post-hurricane Puerto Rico crisis: they’ve been treating Puerto Rico as if it were another country. Considering the overtly racist polices of the Trump administration in general, it’s not been lost on anyone that Puerto Rico’s population largely consists of minorities. No wonder Rick Perry looked so uncomfortable during his testimony.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report