Perry gains points on appearance, loses them on substance
As many are aware, Gov. Rick Perry recently announced his intention to run as a Republican candidate in the 2012 presidential election.
Many people, both for and against Perry, expected this maneuver. Contrary to his repeated statements on how being the governor of Texas is the best job in the world, Perry has been prepping for months — if not years — to leave his current position for one in the White House.
Without a doubt, the irony of his hatred for Washington is lost on those who keep shouting for him to run. But fan base or no fan base, Perry is not the man for the job.
If he succeeds, he would not be the first from Texas to ascend to the oval office — but he might arguably be the worst.
Do not take that as an insult to Perry’s intelligence. The man isn’t stupid. He has done nothing but strategically survive in politics for decades in a manner that could only be seen in a chapter of The Art of War.
However, the use of cunning political tactics and the knowledge of how to pander to the base do not a president make.
Some might still assume that Perry is just some simple-minded Texas politician, but behind the good ol’ boy accent and the simple rhetoric lies a politician who knows how to play the political field.
After switching from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party in 1989, Perry served two terms as Agricultural Commissioner. He then made it to Lieutenant Governor, and has kept the governorship in Texas since 2001. He did this through a combination of knowledge of the political climate and the construction of a strong voter base.
Recently, he has done nothing but groom himself for the Republican nomination, going so far as to cater to the ultra-right wing voting demographic in the hopes that they will drop Michele Bachmann like a hot tamale. His recent prayer rally may have been religious, but make no mistake: there were political undertones.
If it is not obvious by now, Perry will not be appealing to the majority of voters for one simple reason: he is too extreme.
For him, the separation of church and state does not exist. He publicly refuses to accept the concept of global climate change and does not care much about tolerating alternative lifestyles — or even opinions for that matter.
Not to mention that he has repeatedly spoken to reporters about how well abstinence works as a teen pregnancy prevention policy. As governor of a state with the third highest teen pregnancy rate, he should know better, and he probably does.
However, Perry knows that those are the things his voters want to hear. The opinions of an extreme fundamentalist base are clear-cut, and Perry is not afraid to manipulate their beliefs and emotions for votes.
The best example of this was when he played with the notion of Texas seceding from the US. Some fundamentalists shouted in joy and excitement, ignorant of the history of the Civil War, while others were temporarily embarrassed to call themselves Texans.
Perry’s track record ranges from half-truths to outright lies. He mentions Texas as a job creating state with a great budget and a high-quality public education program that successfully prepares students for competing in the global market. He gleefully touts our deregulation of business, saying it creates an environment where small businesses can flourish.
However, he ignores the fact that 25 states have a lower unemployment rate than Texas. He also fails to mention that the state budget shortfall of billions was kept in check only because of massive cuts in social services and the public education system.
And for all those who have spent most of their academic careers in this state, it is no mystery that Perry cares little about college students and the rising cost of an education. Not to mention that Texas still lags close to last in math and reading SAT scores.
As for deregulating businesses for the little people, he obviously hasn’t seen all the Wal-Marts and Starbucks lying around.
Unfortunately, facts don’t seem to matter to the public; All they need is a sharp-dressed good old boy with a great smile, good hair and a shining personality.
Perry is someone who has made a career out of bashing Washington, but now he wants to join it.
David Haydon is a senior political science major and may be reached at [email protected].