Sunday, September 18, 2011

Rick Perry, uber-Texan

Excerpts from Gail Collins' column in The New York Times:
You think of Rick Perry, you think of Texas. And more Texas. Perry the cowboy coyote-killer, the lord of the Texas job-creation machine, the g-dropping glad-hander with a “howdy” for every stranger in the room. He barely exists in the national mind outside of the Texas connection. ...

Rick Perry has never spent any serious time outside of Texas, except for a five-year stint in the military. Nobody sent him off to boarding school to expand his horizons. He grew up in Paint Creek, where he graduated third in a high school class of 13. He went to the most deeply Texas of all the state’s major institutions of higher learning. He was a terrible student, but won the prized post of yell leader, the most deeply Texas of all possible Aggie achievements. Then he joined the Air Force and flew transport planes out of Texas, Germany and the Middle East. “There was no telling what you were going to haul around on any given day, from high-value cargo like human beings to the colonel’s kitty litter,” he once told a reporter in Texas.

Then it was back to Paint Creek, where Perry worked on his father’s ranch and began a stupendously successful political career, during which he ran for the State Legislature, agriculture commissioner, lieutenant governor and governor without ever losing a race. ...

When Perry was still a Democratic state representative, Karl Rove took him under his wing and set Perry up for a run as a Republican against the liberal icon Jim Hightower. This was in a race for agriculture commissioner, a statewide post without a vast array of issues. Perry ran against a Hightower rule requiring farmers to get their workers out of the fields before they sprayed pesticide on them, and won. When Perry moved up to run in a very tight race for lieutenant governor, his campaign got a critical last-minute infusion of $1.1 million from a very, very conservative doctor/businessman from San Antonio named James Leininger, who is one of a large number of rich Texans who seem to enjoy giving things to Rick Perry. (In Texas, individuals can donate as much as they want to political candidates. The term “Wild West” is frequently invoked by campaign finance reformers.) ...

Anyway, the real question isn’t how Texas is doing but whether Perry’s experience there has led him to think about the federal government at all, except as a sinister force that can be identified as the villain when anything goes wrong.

Just one example: health insurance. More than a quarter of all Texans have no health insurance whatsoever. During his first presidential debate Perry blamed that fact — as he has in the past back home — on Washington. (“Well, bottom line is that we would not have that many people uninsured in the state of Texas if you didn’t have the federal government.”) When Bush was in Washington, Texas proposed a half-baked plan to improve its Medicaid program by reducing benefits and coverage. The application was sent back to the state for reworking — by the Bush administration — and the state seems to have expended precious little energy in revising it. But the legend of federal overreaching lives on, a perpetual excuse for why more than six million Texans are uninsured.

Having an interest in national government that’s mainly limited to disliking it might work fine if you’re the governor of a state that has always regarded itself as “low-tax, low-service” anyway. It’s a little more problematic if you’re the guy in charge of keeping the dollar stable, the food supply safe and the national defense ready.

We could live with a president who named his boots “Freedom” and “Liberty.”

Not sure about one who has contempt for the job he’s running for.

I don't have much to say about this, except that if it doesn't worry you that this is another guy Karl Rove "took under his wing," you must have been born yesterday. Literally.


Anonymous said...

Re Perry, I found the following post, from Sullivan, profound:
"It has sickened me - the lack of morality, the lack of accountability, the constant recourse to mass amnesia. And in a man like Perry, you see all the characteristics of this belligerent, diplomatically autistic, aggressively stupid, and fundamentalist psyche. The dragon we thought we had slain is stalking the land again."

Fuller context (a soldier's view of the sham of American Exceptionalism):


WCG said...

Thanks for the link! I took that and posted a fuller quote here.

And yes, it's very hard to understand how that dragon could have been resurrected in less than three years. How could we have forgotten so quickly?

I fully expected the dragon to return, but not for a generation or so. This is beyond stupidity. In fact, it seems to be complete insanity!