Another GOP presidential prospect

Rick Perry, the then lieutenant governor of Texas, replaced George W. Bush as governor ten years ago when the latter resigned after his election as president. Since then, Perry has been elected and re-elected to the office three times. If he serves out the term to which he was just elected this week, he will have been governor for 14 years—a remarkable accomplishment given that until the early 1990s, Texas governors were limited to a single four year term. [This is incorrect; see exchange below.]

However, according to today’s New York Times, Perry would prefer not to serve out his third full term. He is offering a vision of national leadership based on a radical reduction of the reach of the federal government, and seems like a man exploring the possibility of running for president. If being the successful governor of a large state is the best preparation for the presidency, then Perry’s ten years as the conservative governor of the country’s second biggest state ought to put him at the top of the list.

Re-elected Texas Governor Sounding Like a Candidate

AUSTIN, Tex.—Gov. Rick Perry says he has no interest in running for president, but one would never know it by watching him this week.

The day after his resounding re-election in Texas, the Republican governor released a book that reads like a Tea Party manifesto, laying out the conservative case for dismantling much of the federal government and returning power to the states.

Then he flew to New York to begin a book tour, making appearances Thursday on the “Today” show, “Fox and Friends,” NPR and Glenn Beck’s radio program. An appearance on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart is planned, his aides said.

Mr. Perry offers a vision of a future America with a much-weakened federal government, with states handling most social problems. He even bashes former President George W. Bush, whom he replaced as governor, for expanding federal spending. (He is now competing for book sales with Mr. Bush, who just published a memoir, “Decision Points.”)

Mr. Perry’s decision to keep up his attacks on the Obama administration, right after a grueling re-election campaign and with a book tour to give him a national platform, has fueled speculation that he is testing the waters for a presidential run in 2012.

Those whispers grew louder in Texas last weekend when he declined to commit to serving out his four-year term.

But the governor insisted his only goal was to spur “a national conversation” over whether the federal government has become too powerful, too expensive and too intrusive in people’s lives.

“This country needs to cowboy up, as I said in the book, and have this conversation,” he said in an interview. “That’s what I’m interested in doing.”

He added: “Very clearly, I have no interest in going to Washington, D.C., in any form or fashion. Anyone who says different either has a political agenda or is not very well informed.”

Some political strategists say Mr. Perry’s actions speak louder than his words. Throughout the campaign, he largely ignored his opponent and talked about national issues. His stump speech often ended with a call to tell Washington to leave Texas alone.

“The only surprise is that he didn’t give his victory speech in Iowa,” said Glenn Smith, a Democratic consultant and writer. “Perry and his team really think he could be president.”

Mr. Perry’s book—“Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America From Washington” (Little, Brown)—certainly reads like a candidate’s platform. Much of it echoes the ideas of conservative talk show hosts like Mr. Beck and many Tea Party activists.

He proposes to rein in federal power on every front, leaving most questions outside of national defense up to the states.

“We are fed up with being overtaxed and overregulated,” he writes. “We are tired of being told how much salt we can put on our food, what windows we can buy for our house, what kinds of cars we can drive, what kinds of guns we can own, what kinds of prayers we are allowed to say and where we can say them, what political speech we are allowed to use to elect candidates, what kind of energy we can use, what kind of food we can grow, what doctor we can see, and countless other restrictions on our right to live as we see fit.”

Mr. Perry takes on several sacred cows. He says the constitutional amendments establishing the federal income tax and allowing the popular election of Senators were mistakes. The Social Security system, he writes, is essentially a “Ponzi scheme.”

The tendency of people to “vote with their feet” is the surest guarantee of personal liberty, Mr. Perry concludes. States should be laboratories of government policy, he says.

“If you don’t support the death penalty and citizens packing a pistol, don’t come to Texas,” he writes. “If you don’t like medicinal marijuana and gay marriage, don’t move to California.”

There are touches of humor. The son of a rancher, the governor expresses irritation at those who dismiss statements about America’s greatness as “the kind of things said by cowboys, as if it is a bad thing to be a cowboy.”

And in defending states’ rights, he writes: “Texans, on the other hand, elect folks like me. You know the type, the kind of guy who goes jogging in the morning, packing a Ruger .380 with laser sights and loaded with hollow-point bullets, and shoots a coyote that is threatening his daughter’s dog.”

That is not a metaphor. The anecdote is true.

[end of Times article]

—end of initial entry—

JC writes from Houston:

We’ve never had term limits here in Texas. Up until 1972 the Texas Governor served two-year terms but they’ve never been limited from running for reelection. George Bush beat Ann Richards in 1994, who was running for her second term.

LA replies:

Well, now I’m confused. It seemed to me that in the eighties every Texas governor was a one-term governor, and there had never been a governor for more than four years.

Yes, I knew that by the time Richards was running for re-election, more than one term was allowed. But my impression was that prior to Richards, only one term was allowed.

LA continues:

I was wrong.


The state’s first constitution in 1845 established the office of governor, to serve for two years, but no more than four years out of every six (essentially a limit of no more than two consecutive terms). . The 1861 secessionist constitution set the term state date at the first Monday in the November following the election. The 1866 constitution, adopted just after the American Civil War, increased terms to four years, but no more than eight years out of every twelve, and moved the start date to the first Thursday after the organization of the legislature, or “as soon thereafter as practicable.” The Reconstruction constitution of 1869 removed the limit on terms, and to this day, Texas is one of 14 states with no gubernatorial term limit. The present constitution of 1876 shortened terms back to two years, but a 1972 amendment increased it back to four years.

I guess I simply had the wrong impression because for 12 years through the ’80s, there was a series of three one term governors.

LA writes:

Here’s an odd thing. Rick Perry has been governor of the nation’s second largest state for ten years. Normally someone in that situation would be a nationally known figure. Also, he’s a good looking man. But it seems to me that Perry has had zero political profile outside of Texas, at least up until now. Why is that? Maybe he’s been seen as too much a Texas, parochial figure to be of interest outside Texas. Or perhaps he did nothing to promote himself outside of Texas. Also, as a long term governor, why wasn’t he, say, on McCain’s short list for VP in 2008? Maybe because of the Texas/Bush connection. Perry would have been seen as too much associated with Bush to be considered for VP.

JC replies:
Actually what happened in the 80’s was this: Bill Clements was elected in 1978 as the first Republican governor since Reconstruction. Clements lost his reelection bid in 1982 to Democrat Mark White. In 1986 White lost HIS reelection bid to the selfsame Bill Clements, who then served a term and retired, choosing not to run again. Ann Richards was then elected in 1990. So we did have three one term governors although it only involved two people. As for Rick Perry, he needs to be carefully watched. He signed a bill several years ago giving in state college tuition to illegal aliens. He also supported the highly unpopular “Trans-Texas Corridor.” He also pushed through an unpopular franchise tax increase on businesses. I’m not sure of whether his conservatism is show or substance.

LA replies:

Thanks for this information on Perry. Anyone who supports the proposed North American SuperCorridor is on the one-world team, whether he realizes it or not.

Here is what I wrote about the Corridor in June 2006, in an entry entitled “Nation Crusher”:

Moving toward approval is a vast 12-lane, 400-yard-wide highway complex running from Mexico through the U.S. to Canada, with separate lanes “for passenger vehicles and large trucks, freight railways, high-speed commuter railways, and a corridor for utilities including water lines, oil and natural gas pipelines, and transmission lines for electricity, broadband and other telecommunications services.” Called the North American SuperCorridor Coalition (NASCO) International Mid-Continent Trade and Transportion Corridor, it is aimed at creating, in Jerome Corsi’s words,

a NAFTA-plus environment in which workers, trade and capital will be allowed to flow unimpeded within the trilateral North American community consisting of the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Here is a follow-up story by Corsi at Human Events with important information.

Personally, I think this project is simply the infrastructural analogue of what President Bush and his allies want to do to America by means of Hispanic immigration: they want to crush it. They don’t like America, it is still too particular, still too different from the rest of the world, still too white. They want America to be cast down and defeated, so that it can no longer stand in the path of true moral and human progress. What is true moral and human progress? The browning of the Western world, leading to the cultural homogenization and economic unification of the human race. What is the main obstacle standing in the way of this progress? The remaining national identity of America. How to destroy that identity? By turning the center of the United States into an international super transportation corridor, symbolically and actually.

[end of excerpt of 2006 entry]

LA continues:

Curiously, the Wikipedia entry linked by JC about the Trans-Texas Corridor makes no mention of the international scope and purpose of the project. It makes it seem as though it is simply about easing transportation within Texas. Further, and very heartening, the article says that the project was dropped in 2009. Does this mean that the while North America Super Corridor idea has been dropped? More reading is needed.

Here is the opening section of the Wikipedia article:

The Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC) is a transportation network in the planning and early construction stages in the U.S. State of Texas. The network, as originally envisioned, would be composed of a 4,000-mile (6,400 km) network of supercorridors up to 1,200 feet (370 m) wide to carry parallel links of tollways, rails, and utility lines. It is intended to route long-distance traffic around population centers, and to provide stable corridors for future infrastructure improvements—such as new power lines from wind farms in West Texas to the cities in the east—without the otherwise often lengthy administrative and legal procedures required to build on privately owned land. The tollway portion would be divided into two separate elements: truck lanes and lanes for passenger vehicles. Similarly, the rail lines in the corridor would be divided among freight, commuter, and high-speed rail. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) intends to “charge public and private concerns for utility, commodity or data transmission” within the corridor, in essence making a toll road for services such as water, electricity, natural gas, petroleum, fiber optic lines, and other telecommunications services. The network would have been funded by private investors and built and expanded as demand warrants.

In 2009, TxDOT decided to phase out the all-in-one corridor concept in favor of developing separate rights-of-way for road, rail, and other infrastructure using more traditional corridor widths for those modes. In 2010, official decision of “no action” was issued by the Federal Highway Administration, formally ending the project. The action eliminated the study area and canceled the agreement between TxDOT and Cintra Zachry.

JC replies:
In 2007 he issued an executive order mandating that all 6th grade girls be vaccinated with Gardasil, an anti-human papiloma virus manufactured by Merck, who coincidentally had ties with Perry. The Legislature almost unanimously blocked his order. I think it’s fair to say that the conservative base here in Texas doesn’t completely trust Perry. He’s been reelected sort of as a lesser of two evils kind of guy.

Leonard K. writes:

A couple of interesting points [from Wikipedia?]:


Perry has opposed the creation of the Mexico / United States barrier, which is meant to keep out illegal immigrants. Instead of barricading the border completely with a fence, Perry believes that the federal government should fulfill its responsibility to its citizens by securing the borders with “boots on the ground” and technology to improve safety while not harming trade with the state’s biggest trading partner, Mexico.

Political party

Republican (1989-present)
Democratic (1968-1989)

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 05, 2010 08:18 AM | Send

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