For someone looking to become the next occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Rick Perry’s recent description of the federal city as "seedy" was less than neighborly and even puzzling for some of Washington, D.C.'s local politicians.
“Seedy? Have you heard Washington ever called 'seedy' before by a presidential contender? No. I’ve never heard the term,” said D.C. Councilman Michael Brown.
Perry, the Republican governor of Texas and current front-runner for the Republican nomination for president, rolled out the taxonomy during a spot on conservative radio personality Laura Ingraham’s show on Thursday.
“I dislike Washington; I think it's a seedy place. Our country is in trouble, and I don't have the privilege to sit on the sideline and watch our country be destroyed economically by a president who has been conducting an experiment on the American economy for the last two-and-a-half years,” Perry said.
Perry’s jab at Washington is a variation on a familiar theme in American politics: Washington is what’s wrong with America, a refrain that, at least since Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural, has been a core principle for the Republican Party.
“That’s a rough, ugly term," said Mark Plotkin, a political analyst for WTOP radio and longtime observer of the city political scene. "One could read an inflection of demographics, plus ideology. Either [it’s] a poor choice of words or he’s deliberately trying to be incendiary."
Other responses to Perry’s comment ranged from ponderously befuddled to tauntingly bemused.
“A Texas governor would know what ‘seedy’ is all about,” Councilman Jim Graham said. “But we hope he would come and visit and appreciate the 600,000 people who live in this town who are also Americans.”
Brown suggested a more humorous explanation for the apparent disdain of Perry, whose state is home to the Washington Redskins' widely detested rival, the Dallas Cowboys.
“Maybe he’s jealous," he said. "Deep down, maybe he’s a Redskins fan."