In February 2007 I moved back to Austin to take up the position of southwest correspondent for The Economist. At that point I wasn't much of an expert on Rick Perry, who became governor of the state in 2000, after George W Bush was elected president. What little I knew was unimpressive. The liberal intelligentsia dismissed him as a far-right ideologue, and a doofus besides: an Aggie yell leader, a George Bush Jr Jr, an empty head of hair. But even the conservatives seemed unenthused about him. He had been re-elected in 2006 with a bare plurality of the vote (39%), and he was right in the middle of a roaring backlash over an executive order he had issued at the beginning of the month, which would mandate that Texas schoolgirls receive Merck's new vaccine against some strains of HPV, a virus that causes cervical cancer. I was inclined to give some credence to the critics, and to see Perry as a guy who had fluked his way into the governor's mansion and stayed there. 

I soon came to see that I was wrong. And I think a lot of people, even in Texas and certainly around the country, continue to be wrong about Perry in just the same way. The governor himself is largely responsible for that; he hasn't needed a majority of Texans to like him to get re-elected, and in a way, it suits his purposes when people discount him. But having watched Perry closely for four and a half years now, and interviewed him on several occasions, I am convinced that he's actually quite smart about politics and that he's not much of a far-right ideologue.

To the first critique, that Perry is a moron, I would respond that he has been governor for more than ten years now and he has actually made very few political missteps. The HPV vaccine order (which was overturned several months later) was probably the biggest. The other controversy that has caused him the most headache in Texas was the Trans-Texas Corridor, his plan to build a network of new roads, including a new interstate that would cut a swathe up the state. This would have been largely financed by toll roads, with the proceeds going to private contrators. The project was wildly controversial, partly because it would have yielded a number of eminent domain actions, and it was officially killed last year. On the TTC, however, I think Perry got more trouble than he deserved. The state's infrastructure is inadequate, especially given its population growth and trade volume. Given that voters and politicians are allergic to tax increases, tolling isn't an implausible financing option.

At the national level, Perry was widely criticised after seeming to suggest that Texas might secede from the United States. I never saw that as anything other than bluster--there is no serious secessionist movement in Texas--and when I asked him about it, several years ago, he dismissed it, in good humour, as people itching to take umbrage. I later saw him joke about it to a conservative audience, as an example of the shrill offendability of mainstream media, a view the audience seemed to share. I think his stonewalling on the Cameron Todd Willingham execution has been horrible, but given widespread national support for the death penalty, most Americans won't see it that way.

Overall, then, I see no evidence that Perry is as stupid as his critics suggest. Quite the contrary. I wouldn't seek his opinion about the new Derek Parfit but when it comes to politics, especially, he's pretty shrewd. To give one example, at the beginning of the 2010 election cycle, most pundits were expecting a serious primary contest between Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison, the state's senior senator. Hutchison had better approval ratings than anyone else in the state, she is considered more moderate than Perry, and she has, of course, won statewide contests before. Perry suggested that he wasn't even thinking much about the campaign, predicted that she didn't really want the job, and anticipated a blowout. He called it right. I also note that although Texas Democrats are always going on about the supposed idiocy of Governor Goodhair, they seem to find it difficult to rustle up candidates to challenge him, or indeed, to effectively articulate their vision of governance against his. As I wrote in 2009, for Texas Republicans, Texas Democrats are the ace in the hole.  Perry has now won the gubernatorial election three times, in 2002, 2006, and 2010, and has never actually lost an election since he began his career in politics as a state representative, in 1984. If that's dumb luck, I'd like to have some for myself.

On the second point, that Perry is a far-right ideologue, I would again disagree. It's an comprehensible perception because he talks the talk, but his sizzle-to-steak ratio is rather high.

In May, for example, Perry signed a bill that will require women seeking an abortion to have a sonogram beforehand. He had declared this an emergency priority for the session, and the legislation was fast-tracked. That's obviously a staunch pro-life measure (although not really extreme: a handful of other states already had it on the books.) Consider, however, that Republicans hold every statewide office in Texas and they absolutely dominate the state legislature. If they had wanted to they could have passed a bill that would have required women seeking abortions to stand on Congress Avenue wearing a sandwich board soliciting comments on their decision.

On other issues, Perry has been less draconian than his reputation suggests. He has been criticized from the right on immigration, for example--immigration being an issue where Texas is considerably more liberal than the nation as a whole. In 2001, for example, he signed legislation that allows undocumented Texan students to qualify for in-state tuition at state colleges and universities, and he has defended it recently. Perry has also come under fire from social conservatives, notably Rick Santorum, for saying that he's fine with New York's new gay marriage law. He has subsequently tried to clarify that he is "obviously" not fine with gay marriage itself, merely the 10th-amendment concept of states taking some decisions for themselves, but the implication is that as a president, he wouldn't give much attention to the issue.

My interpretation of this is that Perry simply doesn't care that much about social issues. Of course he'll throw some red meat to the base if it's not too much hassle, as with the new sonogram bill. But it just doesn't get him going. He rarely enterprises on these issues. He knows how to play to the base--as in last weekend's prayer rally--but that's because he's shrewd, or if you prefer, opportunistic. As governor, social issues haven't been central to his administration and I don't think they would be if he were president, either.

What does get Perry going is economic issues. His strongest ideological commitment is to small-government conservatism--although he's not pure on that either, because he will engage in some tacit industrial policy if it's a matter of boosting job creation. He is first and foremost a business conservative, and once you understand that about him, everything else makes more sense. That’s why, for example, he’s a big booster of renewable energy even though he’s a climate change sceptic and doesn’t want the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. That’s why he wanted to build the Trans-Texas Corridor and why he is so enthusiastic about tort reform. That’s why he seems to spend most of his workday trying to poach jobs from other states. That’s why he doesn’t have a very aggressive stance against illegal immigration. That's why he'd rather cut education spending than close tax loopholes.

The virtues of this approach are, of course, debatable. I think the most compelling line of critique against Perry's tenure is that his passion for the low-taxes, low-services model may have limited the state's ability to make adequate investments in education, health care, and infrastructure. And those are areas where public spending may have long-term effects on economic productivity. But there are plenty of things Perry could say in response: that as we have seen elsewhere, budget discipline is necessary to forestall fiscal catastrophes; that you can't spend your way into good outcomes; that the single best indicator of social welfare is the unemployment rate. In any case, I hope that's the kind of conversation we could have with Perry in the presidential race. It goes to some core philosophical questions about the role of government.

But as a starting point, when he announces, I would suggest that we all keep in mind that Perry is not an idiot and not an ideologue. Democrats, you misunderestimate this one at your peril.

For a partial list of my recent articles and posts on Perry, click here.
 


Comments

IndieTexan
08/13/2011 13:49

Granted that Perry is a shrewd politician, and more of a fiscal conservative than a social conservative. He still can't out-Romney Romney on the pro-business front, and Romney can point to a number of substantive achievements in Massachusetts, where he had a much stronger role than Perry does in TX. Perry will have to take some convincing stands on social issues to appeal to that segment of the party in order to win the nomination, and that will force him into a narrow box in the general election.

If Perry somehow gets to the general election, he won't be running against Obama, he'll be running against GW Bush-- trying to explain how he's different/better. He won't be able to. I imagine that the Obama campaign would relish such an opponent.

The (oversimplified) story that links Texas job growth to energy prices and/or low-wage immigration will be a pretty strong counter to Perry's primary potential source of national appeal to independents. Especially since Federal stimulus dollars had a big budgetary impact in Texas after the crisis hit. Yeah. I don't underestimate Perry's political skills, but he is not what the Republicans need to win 2012.

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Neal Shultz
08/13/2011 14:07

If I understand your thesis, you argue that Perry isn't a rock-stupid extreme right-wing politician because
a) he has won elections in Texas,
b) though he has made politically unpopular decisions, he has backtracked away from them well enough to remain politically strong,
c) he has not pushed the most extreme possible versions of right-wing social legislation in Texas
d) he has actually supported legislation that passes for moderate in Texas politics, such as policies toward illegal immigration that does not criminalize undocumented residents, and supporting some renewable forms of energy.

My opinion of your thesis is that I suppose it is largely right -- if one sets the bar on what constitutes rock-stupid as low as you have set it, and what constitutes "extremist" absurdly high -- as you also have done.

Let's start with your criteria for non-stupidity. Perry gets off your mouth-breather list largely because of he has demonstrated shrewd political opportunism. You count his decision to withdraw a badly needed but unpopular rail project as one of these bright moments. Another was his ability to avoid suffering political damage from his decision to order Texas girls to get the HPV vaccine. His savviness in this case was his insight that saving hundreds of Texan women from the agonizing slow death Ovarian Cancer would cost him political capital, and not to stand in the way of a legislative overturn.

It's a pretty sad commentary on the state of American politics, the state of your commentary or both, that cynical backpedaling on issues that would materially help the citizens of his state constitutes astute politics in your book.

You believe, I think, that this kind of expediency -- which got him elected Governor of Texas - is the kind of smarts that would play nationally.

I hope for many reasons you are wrong. Except for the creation of mostly minimum-wage, no benefits, dead-end, non-union jobs, Perry has overseen Texas's pell-mell race to the bottom in almost every social and quality life-category in America. Partially because of Perry's policies, Texas has either achieved, or is on its way to achieving, the worst reading scores, the highest rates of teen pregnancy and out-of-wedlock marriage, fastest growing traffic disasters, worst EMS response times, highest percentage of residents uninsured for health care, and worst decline of air and water quality of any state.

Does cravenness in trying to help your state constitute shrewdness? Nationally, I don't think it does. Texas is a unique place in the United Sates. It's large enough, both in terms of size and population, and extreme enough in terms of class and racial differences to constitute a country unto itself: a Third World Country. It some ways it's an extension of the old plantation and resource countries of Central America. In this kind of environment, intelligence carries much less weight than gaudy displays that play well on television. Perry's Christian revival meetings, his bluster, swagger and smirk, his runs carrying a brutally destructive and entirely unnecessary (there's a security detail) firearm; these are the coins of popularity in Texas.

You don't need to be smart to pull off these kinds of stunts. Generally recognized dullards like Santa Anna, Francisco Franco, George W. Bush and Hugo Chavez engaged in the same displays. Dangerously imbalanced grandiosity and uncaring selfishness seem to be essential qualities, here.

As for your portrait of Perry as a non wing-nut; it dissolves when exposed to Texas history and culture. It's not very good when a writer for a theoretically sophisticated publication like the Economist doesn't have the ability to remember back ten years. Your defense of Perry's pragmatism is awfully (I'm using that adjective properly) similar to the Economists' depictions of Great Uniter George W. Bush Jr. when he was governor of Texas. Just as you cite Perry's less than Troglydtic policies toward immigrants and renewable energy, your Economist predecessors lauded Bush's skill at crossing the aisle to reform Texas education.

Here's what you're not getting. Texas doesn't have a two-party political system in the manner of much of the rest of the United States. It has a class-based feudal structure where both Democrats and Republicans are led by vassals to elites whose main,and often only, concern is keeping open their leal Lords revenue streams. In Perry's case, his willingness to be lax on illegal immigration is better explained by the alliance of land barons and Hewlett-Packard to get the border and colleges to extrude underpaid peons and techies than by any "moderation" toward the humanity of brown people. As for Perry's acknowledgment that there is something called renewable energy: three simple, scaly, words. True, the half-man/half-lizard is no longer the richest of Texas billionaires but the investors in his wind-power consortium are again wildly influential.

So, to return to your an

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kth
08/13/2011 15:03

>>> they seem to find it difficult to rustle up candidates to challenge him

Wow, what a silly remark. Bill White would be a statesmen with a future in any halfway sane state. But Democrats can't win in Texas for the same reason they can't win in Utah or Alabama: those states are hosts to critical masses of reactionaries.

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TxCommGuy
08/13/2011 17:22

@IndieTexan: Romney has yet to develop a compelling narrative on jobs. Perry has had that as long as Romney has been running for President.

@KTH: Bill White was just another boring white guy in a long string of boring white guys. Furthermore, he is a technocrat and a micro-manager. Maybe I can’t tell you who Texas’ Huey Long is, or what specific tactics White could have done differently. Actually, I can: the mansion… But he was the bland to Perry’s bold. And the reason we don’t win in Texas is because no one in Austin has enough sense to campaign on anything besides “issues.” It's boring. If that offends you, you’re more than welcome to go over to Burnt Orange Report and complain there. Stop making excuses and start playing like a champion.

@Neal Shultz: My response to you is my bigger point—people who’ve been paying attention don’t underestimate Perry. It’s time to take off those rose-colored glasses and look at the very real possibility that Perry can win this thing. As a Democratic political operative, he scares the hell out of me. Because believe it or not, winning elections isn’t about being smart. Winning elections boils down to which candidate can connect with what the voters are feeling. And Perry has proven time and again that he can do that.

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Doug
08/13/2011 17:58

I guess Perry proved his independence from Big Sandwich Board.

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kth
08/13/2011 18:02

No offense taken, as there's no reason to expect Texas, for probably another 20 years, to be different from Oklahoma or Arkansas or Louisiana. Those who think that Texas is somehow special in that regard are the delusional ones.

Progressives should absolutely worry about Florida and Ohio. But any national election in which Texas is in play for the Dems is already a 40-state landslide. Texas is just not representative of much beyond its boundaries (except the other hardshell tea party states), which is why Perry's candidacy is probably less fearsome than it appears.

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08/13/2011 18:49

I'm siding with Neal Shultz, here. He may be a bit harsh in his criticism (and maybe a teensy bit verbose) but he makes some valid points.

But I will give you this much: if this piece raises the example of Rick Perry to lampoon 21st-century politics for what it is: a last, fetid refuge for cravens, liars and mealy-mouth weasels...

...or...

...if this piece cleverly employs subtle sarcasm and faint praise, in hope of undercutting current support for Gov. Perry among undecideds, Libertarians, and conservative Democrats...

...well, then, you've done one heck of a job. Otherwise, referring again to Neal's remarks: "Yeah, what he said." :-)

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Pete
08/13/2011 22:50

Tangental question... Who pays for those forced Texan foetal sonograms?

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Reginald Perrin
08/14/2011 02:18

The real question is whether Perry really has a path to the nomination. He can't win in NH, Bachmann likely has IA wrapped up, and Perry's first obvious win, SC, will be discounted as a Southern state, where he should obviously win. He has to demonstrate that he can win a state outside the South, preferably an early contest, and it's hard to see how he does this.
The article also pretends that substance is more important than perception. Perry may be "perceived", somewhat justly the author admits, as a right wing goon, but he's "really" more substantive. In case you have not been watching US politics for the past, oh, twenty-five or more years, appearances are all that matter. Once Perry has been defined as Rick "Goodhair" Perry (thank you Molly Ivins! We miss you!), a right-wing yahoo and lesser copy of W, he can't win the general. And, as the author admits, that is how most of the nation already sees him. I don't see how he redefines himself before either the primaries or the general as something new, no matter how much money he throws at this.
I guess the one thing that could change the analysis is the one question I haven't seen answered anywhere; what's his relationship with Roger Ailes, and will Ailes get behind his candidacy? If that happens, time to emigrate.

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IndieTexan
08/14/2011 06:19

@TxCommieGuy: I think Perry's job story is going to be tougher to explain to rest of nation than pundits think. He'll say "low taxes, good regulations." Romney or Obama will say, "rising energy prices, low-wage immigration, and no long-term prospects b/c poor education, healthcare, growing unemployment, high poverty, and look how the stimulus impacted Perry's budget." it's not like Perry is the only biz-friendly governor, so people will be skeptical that he has a magic bullet.

They'll make the case that Texas is a different animal, and Floridians and Ohioans will intuitively believe it.

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IndieTexan
08/14/2011 06:22

Sorry TxCommGuy-- touchphone typing-- didn't mean to call you a commie!

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John
08/14/2011 06:56

I agree Perry will be a strong candidate. He checks all the boxes to win the nomination and the election. But, despite your comment to Neal Schultz in the comments section, your article article goes much farther and says Perry will be a good leader. Why no mention of him appointing a creationist to be Chairman of the Texas Board of Education? Also, the price of gas has tripled while he has been governor. Isn't taking credit for job growth in Texas under those circumstances like a rooster taking credit for the dawn?

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Keith
08/14/2011 07:07

"I think his stonewalling on the Cameron Todd Willingham execution has been horrible, but given widespread national support for the death penalty, most Americans won't see it that way."

Let's be a little clearer on this. He signed off on the execution of an innocent man, and consciously ignored evidence of the man's innocence. This is murder. Rick Perry is a murderer.

Most Americans don't want to execute innocent people, regardless of support for the death penalty. Maybe the difference between executing guilty and innocent people is too nuanced for American political discourse, but then the problem is the discourse.

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Erica
08/14/2011 07:25

Hey all, thanks for the thoughtful comments. I'm sorry I don't have time to respond to all the concerns that have been raised--I will try to keep them in mind for future posts--but a few quick points...

@kth, I think Bill White did a great job as mayor of Houston and was the strongest statewide candidate Democrats have fielded in recent elections. However, before he got in the gubernatorial race he spent months ostensibly running for KBH's Senate seat, on the theory that she would step down during the primary, so I do count him as an example of candidates not being keen to challenge Perry.

@Reginald Perrin, I think you're right to say that perceptions are important in politics, and Perry has some work to do in that regard if he expects to win.

@everyone, I have some more thoughts on the job creation narrative and particularly the oil & gas factor in the post I just put up.

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Keith
08/14/2011 07:47

Erica:

A murderer is running for President and you have thoughts on his job creation narrative. Way to prioritize.

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snaildarter
08/14/2011 08:01

Neal Shultz pretty much has your number, but you would be justified in telling him to get his own blog. Otherwise, turn off the fire hydrant.

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Slay
08/14/2011 09:41

I actually thought Neal's comments indicated that he is a 'mouth breather'. I am not sold on Rick Perry, but the idea that Texas is a 'third-world country' is a sign of incredible ignorance. Also, calling Franco a 'dullard' shows he is a typical American when it comes to history- in other words, too stupid to really care about.

Finally, his points are off base

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08/14/2011 10:42

Bill White left Houston broke and rudderless, which makes him a liberal favorite to this day.

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Aberdeen
08/14/2011 11:03

Reginald,

Concerning Ailes. If I were the Obama team I would go after Fox through the UK Murdoch debacle to prevent that from happening.

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Reginald Perrin
08/14/2011 12:26

@Aberdeen

I wish the Obama folks would listen to advice like yours. However, the record so far is not encouraging. These people consistently bring a soft pillow to a knife fight.
Sadly, also, the Murdoch debacle seems to have dropped off the front pages. Unless Parliament recalls James for more testimony, I think this story no longer has legs.

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Paul Johnson
08/14/2011 15:32

The biggest factor which you don't discuss aside from a token mention at the beginning is that, outside Texas, Rick Perry comes across as George W. Bush II. For most independents and Democrats, Bush is the symbol of all that was wrong with the last decade. Perry's shadowboxing with the Bush family in Texas is not going to be enough to distance him from this perception nationally, and Colbert's "Rick Parry" six-shooter ad campaign will help to reinforce it.

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Jim
08/14/2011 17:20

About the logic of your fetal sonogram comment -

"That's obviously a staunch pro-life measure (although not really extreme: a handful of other states already had it on the books.)"

Just because other states have passed similar laws does not mean this law is not extremist. Prevalence does not correspond to reasonableness. See Saudi Arabia and its Sharia law, or Uganda and its anti-LGBTQ laws.

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jorod
08/14/2011 19:12

Rick Perry is a professional politician. Not good. He just wants to get elected and re-elected. We have plenty of those.

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ResPonse
08/15/2011 04:47

http://youtu.be/piJ6_eInM9M

I can't vote for a politician running for president that doesn't know what the North American Union is. How about you, can you vote for a moron?

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08/15/2011 06:53

Lots of information here, Erica, thanks for the in-depth analysis. I'm curious, however, that you don't touch on the topic of Christian fundamentalism as the Texas Observer did:

http://www.texasobserver.org/cover-story/rick-perrys-army-of-god

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Anti-Charisma
08/15/2011 09:59

KTH,

Your comment about Arkansas being a state that does not elect Democrats isn't accurate. Please note that in the past 30 years, Arkansas has periodically sent two Democratic U.S. Senators, a majority of its U.S. Representatives have been Democrats and many of its governors -- including Bill Clinton for several terms were Democrats.

It is certainly true that Obama could not win Arkansas in 2012 (and he didn't even bother to campaign there) but I do remember Al Gore being competitive there.

Now onto Gov. Perry. He seems to be duplicating the campiagn that Mitch Daniels of Indiana would have run had he decided to compete. However, Texas has substantially more valuable natural resources, a greater influx of workers and more citizens with discretionary income to spend on good and services than most rust belt states do.

How quickly we forget -- governors who run solely on state miracles (like Mike Dukakis) leave themselves wide open to the charge that the "miracle" would have happened despite them, not because of them. Fortunately for Perry, he will have tea party supporters who would show up in a blinding blizzard to vote for him in some of these primaries.

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Bill Shatner
08/15/2011 10:57

I work with a lot of politicians, and in my experience, there is a very big difference between "smart" and "smart on politics." But they aren't mutually exclusive. You can be a total moron (on policy, on basic civics, etc.) and still have an excellent ability to understand and manipulate the political process.

The best politicians are both (smart on policy and smart on politics). But the point is, the "Perry is a moron" people are not wrong just because you can point to astute political maneuvers on Perry's part. You can both be right.

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Kit
08/15/2011 11:20

@ResPonse: well you voted for a president who didn't know there was 50 states in the union so it's all a matter of perspective.
The smugness even now in the comments, I am really looking forward to this election. I don't know if Perry is a good candidate or not but Santa could give BO a run for this money at this stage. Partisans on either side don't matter it's the independents and they are looking for something new.

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Redlander
08/15/2011 12:21

Caveats, I'm a Texan, I'm a Republican, I'm a party precinct chair, I'm a former Democrat who voted for Bill Clinton twice, I've served as a delegate to both the state Democrat and Republican State conventions, I voted for Romney during the last primary season, and I'm not a huge Rick Perry fan.

That said, let me address a few points in Perry's favor. First, unlike Romney, none of Perry's unpopular policies actually made it law or practise - neither the vaccine idea or the TTC. The death row case is misunderstood by many inside and outside Texas; the governor can only act on the recommendation of the State Board of Pardons and Paroles. The best Perry could have done was give the guy an extra 30 days; he could not commute the sentence or pardon the guy.

Moving forward in the process - who is more experienced and has access to more money and organizers, Perry or Bachmann? Answer: Perry. Who is more more conservative, Perry or Romney? Answer: Perry. Who is most likely to work to repeal Obamacare and EPA regulations, Perry or Romney? Answer: Perry. Who has the most draw with Hispanics? Answer: Perry - he has appointed numerous Hispanics to posts in the adminstration. Who will carry almost all of the south and west in the primaries? Answer: Perry. Who will I vote for in the Texas primary? Answer: Perry.

I think a lot of Republican voters will go through what is basically a bianary key and in the end vote for Perry. I anticipate a slugfest between him and Romney with Bachmann quickly loosing steam, e.g. money, about the same time as Huckabee did in '08 - right after South Carolina. When either Perry or Romney wins the nomination, then the voters will have the ultimate choice, O'bama or a plausible, viable alternative. Answer - Not O'bama.

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WillyB
08/15/2011 14:10

The problem with political analysis and comments by hard core partisans is they made decisions long ago. Thus, everything else is just spin. Analyzing Perry as a the possible GOP nominee is fine but the 2012 election will be a more about Obama than the GOP nominee. If Obama continues to be seen as ineffective and clueless as he looks today by moderate and independant voters he will lose in 2012. If Obama gets his act together and the economy and other things pick up, he will win. Obama won because he was not Bush. Perry has a good chance of winning because he is not Obama.

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08/15/2011 15:21

http://www.redstate.com/izoneguy/2011/08/14/seventeen-17-things-that-critics-are-saying-about-rick-perry/

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Anti-Charisma
08/15/2011 15:23

Redlander --

A few quick thoughts

(1) Despite the tremendous enthusiasm from the black community that helped Obama win North Carolina and Virginia, Obama will probably not be competitive in the South. The racial glass ceiling is broken and the black community is staring down 12% unemployment rates under Obama.

(2) Any one of the top 7 GOP candidates for President -- Perry, Romney, Bachmann, Gingrich, Paul and Santorum would defeat Obama soundly in the South and the rural midwest (Kentucky, Missouri and Indiana -- a state Obama suprisingly won in '08).

(3) the GOP cannot count on the Hispanic vote in a national election. John McCain was the most popular GOP candidate in the '08 primaries but the Hispanic community went hard for Obama in the general.

Is Perry the strongest or second-strongest GOP candidate? As of today, yes. But, the South is the GOP's electoral base, if a GOP candidate can't beat Obama here in the South, the election will be lost anyway.

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Charles
08/15/2011 15:26

kth,

That's a pretty nebulous charge against my state of Alabama. Can you define "reactionaries," and offer any evidence to support your charge?

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AW
08/15/2011 16:33

I totally disagree that he doesn't care about social issues. Have you heard his right way Christian rhetoric. Even thought I am a church going person I think he sounds insane.

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kth
08/15/2011 19:18

Charles: Jeff Sessions and the kind of people who vote for him. Next question, please.

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08/15/2011 19:40

An argument that Texas has done a better job of providing services than California:
http://www.city-journal.org/2009/19_4_california.html

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08/16/2011 00:57

at what point do you suggest we actually believe what gov perry says?

when he calls ben bernanke's actions "almost treasonous?" when he questions the president's patriotism? or are these also nothing more than "jokes" said with a wink and a nod apparently only understood as meaningless by professional reporters in on the charade.

perry is not a good man. his words will lead to real word actions with real world consequences. just ask latinos who now have to show papers to vote. just ask the citizens of austin now gerrymandered out of a u.s. congressman. just ask cameron todd willingham. believe me, i don't think perry is an idiot. i think he's a danger.

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ScottHem
08/16/2011 10:43

Perry is a made to order sound byte/60 second TV ad-here in the Northeast he is beyond toast, anywhere the least bit sensitive to an ad with a compilation of wacko bits from his prayer speaker type buddies (I smell something burning) with a healthy dose of his own extremist spouting and that Obama PR firm is set for life.

Picture if you will, a picture of Bush "mission accomplished" swagger, Perry's Bush wannabe mantra, morphing into Perry's "secede" speech,
then to Hagee et. al. condeming various groups of citizens, religions, space aliens, sprinkle with Nazi-Jew speeches from the Hagee crowd, then assorted Texans (I guess they call them) hands in air, eyes closed, in a stadium rented by Perry; drip on this delicious sundae all that Perry will have to say (and what he will say on his own accord ala Joe Biden on steroids) between now and election day, and you will have one candidate who may look good standing still before he opens his mouth but will be quickly shown to be an example of a small fish in a big pond.

What about jobs you say? Show a few of the workers and their high paying minimum wage jobs-don't ask them where they just came from
i.e. another state and better not show kids test scores and all the other things that have nose dived with this supposed "business first" approach.

Perry is not ready for prime time. His entry into the race is a measure of the paucity of real candidates on the Right. Easy ads- oh, would they be fun to construct, are already in the can for Michele-Sarah Palin we need you and your bus-

Perry will sound like he's just in from Pluto, Michele from Mars, Romney from Planet X-is it there? Yes its, no, its, yes its, well I never said that, what Planet? Santorum is from another solar system and who knows-asteroid Trump?

Obama, like him or not has separated himself from the swamp called Congress, destroyed the myth called the Democrats are weak on defense, been given the wonderful gift of the village idiot Bush reincarnated as Perry and a circus of fascinating cartoon characters who we all can envision looking kind of Presidential.

OK, that prayer dinner presided by President Perry and his creationist preacher types, Koch brothers, and oil execs is unusual but the big screen with ten thousand followers swaying in the Dallas stadium-that's different or is that President Bachmann I see hunting for Joe McCarthy and commies in the oval office?

Forget these lightweights, they will eat each others young; its more fun to speculate who they will choose as a running mate. Rev. Wright is too tame even if he was on the Right. Who's that former bug exterminator Congressman? Now there's a formidable Republican who can tip the balance-

Better start planning 2016; as you in the South might say, 2012 is going to be a "cakewalk"-"see ya."



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tompain
08/16/2011 12:17

Um, yes, he is a moron. Just like Sarah Palin. Why people can't see the plain truth when the evidence is overwhelming is quite a mystery.

No evidence that he is as stupid as people suggest? Have you seen his college transcript? Have you listened to the stupid things he says. Jeez, open your eyes.

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BobN
08/16/2011 12:42

"That’s why he seems to spend most of his workday trying to poach jobs from other states."

Perry is pro-business but with only short-term benefits in mind. Extrapolate his policies out over time and you get a mess. Spread them out over the nation and you get, what? An international job poacher, drawing $10/day jobs from India and China?

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Laura
08/16/2011 21:35

Any statement that Perry's sonogram law, which presumes women are too stupid to make their own medical decisions and needs the state's help, isn't extreme, can't be taken seriously. And as another commenter pointed out, the fact that states like Oklahoma have passed similar anti-choice laws doesn't mitigate its misogyny or extremism. I live in Denver, where women are driving from all the surrounding states to obtain reproductive health care they can't get at home thanks to laws like those. They also come here to get health care with dignity, which is not what they get in Rick Perry's Texas.

Texas is 50th in women getting prenatal care in the first trimester, 6th in women in poverty,1st in non-elderly women without health insurance, 47th in monthly stipends for the Women Infants and Children nutrition program, and just gutted the state budget for family planning leaving 284,000 Texas women without birth control or access to basic reproductive healthcare. Not to mention Perry tried to opt out of Medicaid, which provides basic health care to the poorest of Texas residents.

So if you're a woman in one or two of those minimum wage jobs, you have no birth control, no prenatal care, no nutrition support once the state forces you to carry that pregnancy to term, and no health care.

But thanks to Rick Perry, the state does treat you to a sonogram and a lecture instructing you on the error of your ways. After that, you're SOL.

By any reasonable measure, including his own statements, Rick Perry is an anti-choice, right-wing extremist.

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Chris Acosta
08/17/2011 04:02

I agree Perry is in position to take the nomination for Republican Presidential candidate. After having lived through two elections with Bush junior I believe Perry is the most dangerous opponent President Obama can face. Why because the argument against Perry being president is far more complicated than the reasons he should be president.

In my experience the simple argument wins with people because it is easy to understand. Take for instance the statement 'Texas created a third of the jobs in the US'. The counter to that statement is not so simple. Further people hear what they want to hear. If they fear for their jobs or don't have one Perry wins because they won't hear the explanation about the kinds of jobs created in Texas.

If Perry is the nominee, I believe he will be, this is going to be one of the most brutal campaigns for president seen in our lifetimes. Unless the economy improves President Obama may well be a one term president. I can't imagine what would happen in this nation if someone like Perry becomes president it can't be anything good!

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08/17/2011 07:54

Perry and Bachmann etc... are scary, and I don't even live in the U.S. I just hope that sensible Americans do not vote for a religious fundamentalist to be their President again; http://coffeelovingskeptic.com/?p=665

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KarmaPolice
08/17/2011 08:35


"In February 2007 I moved back to Austin"

That is the problem, Erica. You have lost the ability of perception because you are surrounded by other Texans. The rest of the country understands that Rick Perry is mouth-breathing lout. I would recommend that you spend more time outside the state of Texas for a clearer understanding.

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John B.
08/17/2011 09:34

What rot Grieder writes. The incomparable Digby has a solid take on this superficial and deeply deceptive love paean to Rick Perry:
http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2011/08/sweetening-perry-beat.html

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Ugh
08/17/2011 12:57

Ugh, another contrarian, beat-sweetner article featuring excuse-making rationalizations by setting the bars so extraordinarily low and/or noting that such hyper-conservatism isn't totally rare.

Our media is almost as big a part of the problem as the politicians themselves.

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Jim O'Hara
08/17/2011 16:00

@Chris Acosta
"'Texas created a third of the jobs in the US'. The counter to that statement is not so simple." If Perry is nominated, the Dem counter is videos of the people who have those jobs.

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Kyron Huigens
08/17/2011 19:04

The "liberal intelligensia" charge against Perry is not that he's a moron; it's that he's an ignoramus. Different things. Dubya isn't a moron either. Both of them are smart men who are ignorant. They just don't know much about any of the things a public official should know. Things like macroeconomics, history, law, the scientific method, peer review among scholars. And they're not just ignorant; they're ignoramuses. They're proud of being ignorant. They're part of the anti-intellectual tradition American culture, something deeply bound up with the culture of Southern victimhood. So, no, he's not a moron. But the fact that he's the perfect avatar of the second-worst pathology in American public life is more than enough reason to be sickened and alarmed by your attempt to mainstream him. Journalists did the same thing to the ignoramus who ran in 2000 -- assuring us that we could rely on the decent common sense of this salt of the earth character. What we got was incompetence and criminality exceeded only by the arrogance with which it was inflicted on the country. Why in God's name are you encouraging anyone to buy this shit again?

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Paul Crego
08/18/2011 05:25

"I think his stonewalling on the Cameron Todd Willingham execution has been horrible, but given widespread national support for the death penalty, most Americans won't see it that way"

This is the most appalling remark in your article. A man who many agreed may have been innocent was executed. Your dismissal of Rick Perry's immoral action in this case is reprehensible.

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08/19/2011 14:13

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Marc Kivel
08/19/2011 14:18

Mr. Pompadour Mullet (aka Brother Rick)and his Band of Brothers in the state legislature gave Texas a $25 billion shortfall - that's fiscal responsibility?

He's against Keynesian economics - although his use of state funds to entice companies to relocate to Texas sure seems like government interference in markets to me.

His cronies get an amazing number of state contracts - wasn't U S Grant also a Republican with a corrupt administration?

The man may be a great politician but I can't wait to "out" him to every Republican I can reach...

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Peter Principle
08/20/2011 17:59

"What does get Perry going is economic issues."

I'm afraid I've missed your point here. Perhaps you can help me out. Given that we know Perry was a straight D student in economics at Texas A&M, hardly the U of Chicago on the Brazos, why should anyone with 2 brain cells to rub together give a skinny rat's butt what he thinks about economics?

All one has to do is look at what Perry has said and written over the years. The record is quite clear. He has an unmatched propensity to consistently say stupid things. To try to argue that the stupid things he continually says are actually evidence of his cleverness is, well, less than smart.

You're over-analyzing here. It's really very simple, just like Rick. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and sometimes an idiot is just an idiot. Rick Perry is an idiot, period, end of story, move the bleep on.

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09/03/2011 03:14

I agree with what Neal Shultz said, and it's VERY interesting that Erica did NOT react to him AT ALL when she reacted to three other posters.

I also agree with Neal Shultz' statement that Texas is a Third World country ...
because large parts of it just are.
Small parts of it are Switzerland/Monaco/Beverly Hills on steroids. And middle class suburbia is vanishing.

Yes by GDP, Texas would be the fifth economy in the world. Does this mean that Texas is rich?
No, it means that Texas' millionaires are rich. The rest of us is not just poor, but DIRT-poor.
It's really better to be poor in Poland or Costa Rica, at least there, you'd get health care, paid for by the rich. In Texas, you would just die.

In other words, Texas is a Repukelican paradise: the perfect 80-20 state: 80 percent really poor, 20 percent disgustingly rich, and not much in between.

Kinda resembles Libya, actually. In some ways, not as extreme, in other ways, MORE extreme.

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Independant Voter
09/11/2011 17:23

I am neither Republican nor Democrat, and i have been known to vote on either side of the line. it depends on which politician i feel i can honestly connect with.

When i look at Rick Perry, and even watch him debate. Like we just did here recently from the Reagan Library. I cant help but feel like im watching history all over again. and recent history at that. It feels almost like Dubya all over again. The man rambled and stuttered his way through the debate. Lauded High-schoolish Insults at his Fellow republican etc.

Social Security it is a Ponzi Scheme? that's not going to fit well with most Americans at all. Medicare being taken away? That too wont sit well with many voters. Yes both programs do need some serious updates but taking them away will not solve the problem. it will only create more and more.

His blatant denial of Climate change and that humans are impacting the environment that much to cause a problem is even more absurd. I don't know what is more credible evidence than the record weather we have been having. Also lets take into consideration, there are 6 billion people on this earth and growing.

I grew up in the north but i spent plenty of time in the south to know that most of the Rich down there will gladly turn their head and look the other way when it comes to immigration, especially if that "brown one" will mow their lawn for less than the Neighbors 16 year old son. My Grandfather is also a native Texan. George W. Bush wasn't a Native Texan. It bothered the piss out of that old man that someone from Vermont claimed to be a bigger Texan than he was. And my Grandfather grew up in El Paso. I still have many family members left in Texas and most of them will tell you that they are still Suffering fatigue from Bush and that Perry has been nothing more than a Continuation of that.

Further more Texas ranks almost Last in every category of issues that are important to the Voters nationwide. Unemployment is high, Most of the state doesn't have health insurance, It ranks 50th for Education, its 47th for job creation. and CREATIONISM!? seriously even Real Bon-a-fide Religious scholars themselves do not dispute Evolution.

"I hate to rain on the parade of the great Lone Star State governor, but as governor of Utah, we were the No. 1 job creator during my years in service." -Jon Huntsman

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10/30/2012 06:52

Gov. Rick Perry released the following statement regarding the launch of the Texas A&M University System's accountability initiative, EmpowerU, a new management and accountability program designed to more efficiently measure learning outcomes for student success.

"Texas A&M University System's EmpowerU management and accountability program is an excellent example of leading the way toward more accountable, affordable and accessible higher education for all Texans. Innovative programs like this will increase transparency and hold institutions more accountable for quality and efficiency, better serving our students and our state."

In order to ensure Texas students who want to pursue a degree have access to an affordable and accountable education, Gov. Perry has called for a four-year tuition freeze at the rate a student pays his or her freshman year. He has encouraged institutions to use technology to help improve four-year graduation rates and make tuition more affordable. He has also proposed outcomes-based funding for institutions, tying 10 percent of an institution's state funding to the number of students it graduates. Additionally, the governor has renewed his challenge for institutions of higher education to offer bachelor's degrees for $10,000 or less, including books. So far, ten institutions have announced or implemented a $10,000 degree.

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