The cliché: Yesterday afternoon, Center for Politics director Larry Sabato tweeted: "
#reagandebate cliché I'm already sick of: 'All eyes on Perry.'" We imagine Sabato has had a pretty rough day today, because the conclusion of the GOP debate last night did nothing to quash this phrase. CNN's John Vause tweeted late last night "Also - there was the GOP debate - all eyes on Gov Perry - he made his big debate debut." Then Alexis Levinson at The Daily Caller wrote a post titled "All eyes on Perry and Romney at presidential debate." And NBC's First Read blog titled their reaction post "First Thoughts: All eyes on Perry."
Where it's from: As we're sure Sabato could attest, all eyes have been sitting on Perry for quite a while now, even before he was even running for president. As newsobservor.com helpfully pointed out early last month, "All eyes on Perry, and he's not running - yet." So based on the preponderance of this undying idiom, we'd say America's gone at least a month without blinking.
Why it's catching on: Sabato's tweet declaring the cliché had a theory for why it's in use. "Yes, we know 'Eyes of Texas' song. Deduct 5 pts from anyone who uses it." For all you ignoramuses out there, (alright, it went over our heads too) the 'Eyes of Texas' song is the alma mater of the University of Texas at Austin. Sung to the tune of "I've been Working on the Railroad" it begins "The eyes of Texas are upon you, All the live long day." "Aggies" at Texas A&M apparently reference the song lyrics in their own Battle Hymn, making it a familiar refrain to Perry, an A&M graduate. We have to say, though, we're not sure everyone who declares that "all eyes are on Perry" is making a reference to lyrics of various Texan university songs. After all, there aren't any prominent uses of "The eyes of America are on Perry" that would more accurately parrot the song lyrics.
So why is it really catching on? It's a fair question, given that at least some eyes have been on Jersey Shore during past Republican debates. (In fact, more people watched the premiere of MTV's show than watched the Iowa GOP debate.) But commentators seem to be saying that it's more than just the Republican base that is waiting to see how Perry performs as the new front runner in the race. Obama's team has to be watching. Some say they want Perry to get nominated, improving his chances in the general election. But other liberals are just watching in horror, hoping Perry will trip himself up before the country gets another staunchly conservative Texan president. Indeed, everyone may be hoping for different things, but Perry's got all of their attention.