I’m not a Rick Perry fan. And honestly, it’s not because he was a man-cheerleader for the Aggies. (It’s a little poke at the Ags, don’t get worked up.) In fact, it’s kind of hard to put my finger on why I’m not a Rick Perry fan.
But you should know this: Rick Perry is more popular with conservatives from outside the State of Texas than he is with conservatives from Texas. I’m conservative. I’m from Texas. And I can tell you that I’m not alone with the reaction of: Really? Rick Perry?
I imagine this is what the Tennessee Titans felt like when Dan Snyder developed a man-crush on Albert Haynesworth over a week’s time and threw $100M at him to join the Redskins. Bud Adams and Jeff Fisher had to have sat there and said…”really?”
In an attempt to quantify my lack of love for Rick Perry, here’s a list of things – from “No Concern At All” to “Very Concerning” – about the governor of Texas.
Not At All A Concern: It doesn’t bother me at all – that on the surface – he is reminiscent of Bush. And let’s be clear, “the guy that NPR executives and the New York Times and your average Subaru-driving Whole Foods shopper were afraid George W. Bush was? Rick Perry is that guy”, as Kevin Williamson so eloquently wrote in National Review.
The fact that Perry is all swagger and boots doesn’t bother me. It won’t bother anybody. In fact, it will be a net positive. Joseph Weisenthal tweeted the other day, “people who think Perry’s Texas-ism won’t play USA-wide are dumb. Northerners have a love for that s**t, borne out of an inferiority complex.” He’s right. It evokes leadership.
Not A Concern: It’s not a problem that Perry was a Democrat in the 1980s. Most Southerners, many Texans, and damn-near all rural Texans were still Democrats in the 1980s. Perry was conservative, no matter what jersey he wore.
Mildly Concerning: Perry championed the Trans-Texas Corridor, a massive transportation network of highways, tollways, railways and utility lines bundled together and stretching 4,000 miles across the state … but would have made extensive use of eminent domain.
More Concerning: I didn’t like The Response…the Governor’s 30,000-attendance call for prayer at Houston’s Reliant Stadium. I’m not a religious guy, but I went to enough Sunday school to learn Matthew 6: 5-6, ““And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Pretty Concerning: In 2003 Perry started both the Texas Enterprise Fund and the Texas Emerging Technology Fund with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to act as sort of a venture fund and bribe businesses to come to Texas. It worked. But it should give pause to anyone with a commitment to free market capitalism.
Concerning: In 2007 Perry issued an executive order mandating that all Texas girls entering the Sixth Grade be vaccinated for HPV. Do I need to say more on this?
Very Concerning: During the whole HPV vaccination deal it came out that Perry’s former chief-of-staff was a lobbyist for Merck, the maker of Gardisil, the only HPV vaccine on the market at the time. Similarly, as the Wall Street Journal wrote, millions of dollars of the Texas Enterprise Fund and Texas Emerging Technology Fund (described above) went to people close to Perry. Accusations of cronyism and patronage have hovered around Perry.
All of the above have made people (people who have followed him for more than a week) question whether Perry is really a conservative or if he’s just a politician in a conservative state. I think he’s both. A conservative. And a politician.
It’s a joke that so many Republican bloggers from Florida or Washington DC or New York City think Perry is some conservative savior. He’s a populist and a politician. But…I think he’s a conservative politician. And…in the end…I think his convictions are in the right place. But I’m not a fan.
I think the main reason I don’t much like Perry is that he’s not that likeable. Setting aside his policies, George W. Bush had a characteristic…call it charm, call it charisma…that made you want to have a beer with him. And it made you want to vote for him. Rick Perry is the opposite.
Earlier this week I interviewed Bill McKenzie of the Dallas Morning News who said that Perry had a Nixonian quality to him. Spot on. Exactly. It’s as though Perry…driven by some insecurity… has an antagonistic relationship with everyone…even those that cheer.
Look, Rick Perry is not ideal. But ideal is not in the race. So being a not-very-likeable, populist, politician…but one who is conservative…might be enough to win my vote. It just doesn’t inspire fandom.