Rick Perry: God’s Man?

23 Aug

Rick Perry says God is on his side.

I can’t tell you whether or not that’s true.  I can however, issue a word of caution to all the skeptics out there: Rick Perry doesn’t lose elections.  The man has a track record of 10-0.  Perhaps he does have some supernatural help.  Or perhaps he’s just a smart and cunning man who knows how to pick a battle and work a crowd.

Either way, Perry has launched an explosive entry onto the presidential running scene.  In a matter of days, he significantly outshone GOP rival Mitt Romney in his sheer ability to get people talking about him, and they haven’t stopped.  He’s also entering a race in which the incumbent’s leadership is being questioned after the debt ceiling debacle and current state of the economy.

Since stepping into the vacancy left by George W. Bush in 2000, Governor Perry has been at the helm of Texas government for 11 years.  Earlier this year, he was sworn in for an unprecedented 4th term.  His time in office earns him the prestige of being the nation’s longest serving governor, and gives him the notoriety of having the most high-level government executive experience of anyone in the nation (except those who have already served as president).  It’s an impressive resume.

He appeals to his supporters by being militant about keeping taxes low (Texans equate taxes with tyranny) and portraying a strong, if not dogmatic, adherence to Christian tradition.

…in Texas we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools. Because I figure…because I figure you’re smart enough to figure out which one is right.

(For those of you who don’t live in Texas, that statement is misleading at best.  Texas teachers are not allowed to teach creationism as per the Supreme Court ruling of 1987, and current curriculums are void of any theories of intelligent design.)

What Rick Perry is Not

He is not George Bush.  Conservative Texan, yes – but that’s about where the similarities end.  In fact, the two have reportedly been at odds since 1998, when Perry defied an edict by Bush’s campaign advisor, Karl Rove, that all Republicans run a positive race.  Perry doesn’t come from the Bush wealth and political dynasty.  He doesn’t know about (or perhaps he just doesn’t care) how the statements he puts out to the media might be interpreted through a national lens.

Bush was not afraid to invest money into our country’s future.  Whatever your opinion of No Child Left Behind, it’s obvious that Bush considered education one of his main priorities.  Perry, on the other hand, recently cut $4 billion from education funding to balance the budget.  He has also declined millions in federal grant money for education.

Bush was in favor of social programs for single mothers.  In his first campaign speech, he ridiculed the idea that “if government would only get out of the way, all our problems would be solved.”  Perry seems determined to shrink and castrate government as quickly as he can.

And I’ll promise you this:  I’ll work every day to try to make Washington DC as inconsequential in your life as I can.

He is not a “weak governor.”  Don’t let his stance on small government fool you into thinking that Perry is willing to hold a benign position in office.  During Perry’s lengthy tenure as Governor, he has transformed the office from its traditionally limited position to a true powerhouse by appointing his political allies in every state agency and creating more of a “cabinet-style” operation.  This is somewhat ironic, because according to this chart by the University of North Carolina, the lack of “appointment powers” is a major factor in why Texas is considered a “weak governor state.”

In the event that Perry is unable to get what he wants through working with other agencies (such as congress) he has already made it clear that he is a proponent of using the executive order to get around the other branches of government.  He is also rather adept at using his veto power – as governor he has vetoed 273 bills since 2001.

He is not soft or stupid.  Critics have used his college transcripts, his “good hair” and some of his quotes to purport that the governor is not a very bright bulb, or not to be taken seriously.

It simply isn’t true.  At least, not that I can see.

He believes staunchly in creationism and denies the existence of global warming.  That doesn’t make him stupid.  These kinds of beliefs are choices, and are not really a measure of one’s intelligence.  Every person chooses who to trust and who to doubt.  Perry has chosen to be suspicious of government and science – a choice, by the way, that has strongly adhered him to a large base of supporters in his party.

His intellectual strength may not be academia, but he is extremely cunning in a political sense, and his moves are strategic – even so far as to switch parties to appeal to a more influential voter base.  He’s been described as a “hard” man, one who prefers being feared to being liked.  This has cost him some friends and allies in legislature, but has rewarded his ambition.  He’s not afraid of opposition, and will stand by his priorities despite obstacles (such as cutting education and healthcare funding to be sure the state operates within its means).

He understands power.  He knows how to promote (and take credit for) Texas’ achievements during his tenure that will appeal to the masses.  He is able to draw support from large and influential supporters, and he knows the demographic well that he chooses to appeal to.  He’s a good speaker, able to incorporate slight jabs of humor into his speeches and connect with his supporting audience in a way that comes across as more personable than, say, fellow uber-conservative Michelle Bachmann. He churns out exaggerated or outrageous statements to the media, who in turn fill the headlines with his name day after day after day.

Historically, he has always possessed uncanny timing, with an excellent knack for being in the right place in the right time to sweep an election out from under the supposed front-runner’s feet.  At the moment, he’s running circles around the other GOP favorites, with the end goal of challenging a notably weakened democratic president.

What Rick Perry Is

Well, there are a lot of things I could put here, and I’ll probably get into it more as the election draws nearer.  But for right now, Rick Perry is a firecracker that seems to be doing a successful job of establishing his presence in the run for POTUS.  I’ve said before that I’m not really a Perry supporter – also something I’ll probably delve into in the future – but even his opponents, if they’re honest, have to admit that whether or not they agree with his politics, he’s a force to be reckoned with.

Whether or not he’s been handpicked for the job by God remains to be seen.


Posted in Politics

  1. Samantha Baker Reed

    August 23, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Great post, Amy, thanks!

  2. Jason O'Keefe

    August 23, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    very insightful post, thanks Amy. and btw, there’s no doubt you’re excellent writer.

  3. Kurt J. Pankau

    August 23, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Perry frightens me for a few reasons. He seems to think that national problems have simple solutions (!?), he’s gone on record that government needs to not be involved in education (!?!?), and he called Ben Bernanke’s monetary policy “treasonous”. Bernanke was appointed by George W Bush (whom God also supported, I’m told), and while there are economic reasons to oppose quantitative easing (the technical term for targeted inflationary action in response to an economic contraction), Perry hasn’t mentioned any of them; he’s called the man a traitor instead. No argument. No alternative. Just claiming that he hates America. Shining leadership, that.

    I agree that the man is a firecracker and I think he’s a masterful politician (for a strategic look at his campaigning, I recommend John Dickerson’s coverage on Slate: http://www.slate.com/id/2301579/ ). I don’t think he’s ignorant either, so I can only conclude that he’s pandering to ignorance on economic policy. Why, then, should we think he’s not also pandering when he invokes God? Bachman, Cain and Santorum are also claiming support from a higher power. Do you suppose God’s just messing with them? Or maybe, just maybe, power-hungry people who pander to their constituents have no qualms about claiming divine support of their own political aspirations, and we should be suspicious of them when they do so.

    “May God Almighty give our work His blessing, strengthen our purpose, and endow us with wisdom and the trust of our people, for we are fighting not for ourselves but for Germany.” — Adolf Hitler, Berlin, Feb 1, 1933

    • Amy

      August 23, 2011 at 8:32 pm

      I find it difficult to get as riled up about the Bernanke comment as most people. It just sounded like a man running his mouth for the sake of humor to me. I don’t think he was seriously proposing that anyone execute Bernanke for crimes against the country. It was meant to be boldly insulting, and it was. I wish the media would get over it.

      I do lean toward the suspicion that a lot of the God invoking comes from the desire to appeal to his constituents. And I’m not saying that he doesn’t believe what he says on some level. I just get the distinct impression through watching him when he speaks (for instance at The Response rally) that his belief is very surface and doesn’t really come from a strong inner conviction. Likewise, I doubt he’d be as staunchly into creationism if it weren’t a way to thumb his nose at Big Science and popular thought, while simultaneously getting a pat on the back from his Bible belt supporters.

      I could be completely off base. It’s just the impression I get when I watch him talk about faith and listen to the words he chooses – like there’s some kind of wall between his heart and the speech coming out of his mouth.