So, to the surprise of exactly no one, he’s in. A single question remains, concerning Rick Perry, governor of Texas. If he wins the Republican presidential nomination, as well he may, can he be counted on to send Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Tim Geithner to the unemployment lines (pending their recruitment by the lobby or the universities)? Will America accord him that chance?
Er. Maybe. Quite possibly. I don’t know, and I don’t speak abstractly concerning the finite nature of human knowledge.
My governor — I am a Texan — is operating at a level at which none of his fans — I am one — has seen him operate. We are moving about in the dusk here. Some deliberation is in order.
My governor, as a presidential candidate, brings various strengths to the table:
First, a good gubernatorial record for keeping a relatively tight lid on spending while encouraging enterprise and economic growth. Rick Perry loves business and the spirit of enterprise even more than Barack Obama seems to look down his nose at same. He’d probably love for every start-up concern or corporation in the country to move here , taking advantage of Texas’s low-tax, light-regulation climate. From 1999 to 2010, the number of Texas jobs rose 12.6 percent; the country’s overall number fell 0.2 percent. How do we like them apples? A whole lot, I bet.
Were Perry to become president, the Environmental Protection Agency could forget about lashing coal producers and automobile manufacturers to lofty standards for “pollution reduction.” We would see a different kind of Energy Department — a more forward-looking one, focused not just on so-called green energy but likewise on traditional sources, including oil, natural gas, and, yes, coal. To the extent legally and politically feasible, the dismantling of Obamacare would commence under a Perry administration, followed by the substitution of something more logical, efficient, and market-oriented.
As a campaigner, Perry would bring considerable vitality to the race. He’s a good speaker who commands a public platform. Nobody zings our guv and receives a meek smile in response. The fun of a run against Obama, at the presidential debate level, would consist — I predict — in Perry’s delight at calling Obama’s hand whenever necessary: exposing the generally huge gap between rhetoric and performance.
Texas liberals have had great sport with Perry’s mediocre college transcript, leaked recently to the media by some enemy or the other. I have news for Ivy League hecklers everywhere. The governor of Texas is in fact one sharp cookie. Go on and misjudge him if you care to. That’ll be your problem and yours only. Further, go on and misjudge the American electorate’s commitment to government by Harvard graduates who, for all their book-larnin’, can’t seem to identify the forces that drive and undergird great, prosperous economies.
Very well, then. Can’t we go ahead and measure my governor for his inauguration suit? We might want to wait on that, due to factors such as the unknowableness of human destinies. Another factor to which I have alluded is also worth consideration — that of Perry’s newness to the national, as distinguished from the state or regional, political scene.
A lot of calibration in terms of presentation will be necessary as Perry reveals himself to 300 million-plus Americans, some of whom are backward enough — ahem — to suppose Texans unfitted for any place but the back of a horse. Anti-Texas prejudice becomes Texasphobia under certain political and cultural conditions: as when the Eastern media perceive Eastern political and cultural ways to be threatened by us boobs and barbarians. As a New York Times subscriber of many years’ standing, I can tell you Maureen Dowd, Frank Bruni, and the squinty fanatics of Andrew Rosenthal’s editorial page will come unglued at the idea of Rick Perry approaching unto the seat of Barack Obama. Likewise the Eastern bloggers — the Jacob Weisbergs, the Andrew Sullivans, and so on. Why do the nations so furiously rage together when a Texan comes in view? They just do.
That’s a related point: Quote the Good Book, or speak a word in behalf of its narrative, and the nations rage louder than ever. That’s to say, Rick Perry makes no bones about his Christian faith: as witness the Houston rally at which he bade Americans pray for America. Will a commitment to prayer, and to God, be held against him in fast-secularizing America, where gay marriage has joined wealth-redistribution on the marble tablets where liberals’ ideals are inscribed? Or will mainstream voters instead cut slack for a candidate unwilling, in a time of stress and strife, to assert the priority of human ideals over all others? A lot, I think, will depend on Rick Perry’s rhetorical skills. These, as I say, are large, so we mustn’t yet draw negative conclusions regarding his prospects.
It’s frequently said that America isn’t ready for another Texas governor, given lack of love for the last one, whatever his name was. The point worth noticing perhaps is that the last one preceded possibly the most oversold president ever: a chief executive unable, we subsequently found out, to get his act together. The perceived offenses of What’s His Name have been blotted out already in considerable degree by the bungling and obfuscations of the pig-in-a-poke the public bought in 2008. I wouldn’t ‘t count, were I a Democratic strategist, on names like “Rove,” “Rumsfeld,” and “Guantanamo” to work like talismans in a country with 9 percent unemployment.
President Perry? Maybe. Again, maybe not. What fun, though, the finding out will be. The guy is going to shake up this race, big time: with Stetson on, or without.