'All hat, no cattle'

Rick Perry’s candidacy. Plus, news from Iraq and Pakistan, and the AT&T/T-Mobile merger.
By EDITORIAL  |  August 17, 2011


And so it came to pass, another God-fearing right-wing nut has joined the field competing for the Republican nomination to run against President Barack Obama next year.

This one is named Rick Perry, and he is the governor of Texas, which sounds impressive — the Lone Star State being the nation's second most populous as well as ground zero for the oil and gas business.

Getting elected governor in Texas is a noteworthy political accomplishment. Perry is, hands down, the most dynamic campaigner in the Republican field — as it now stands.

However, in terms of constitutional authority — the power to get things done — the governor of Texas is not as powerful as, say, the chief executives of New York, Massachusetts, or even tiny Maryland are in their respective states.

Even when this fact makes it to the public, it is unlikely to make much of a difference. Perry has religion, Tea Party–style. For Republican primary voters this time around, that may be all that matters.

Perry is also styling himself as the nation's most successful job-creating governor. That is not quite right.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram takes issue with the claim. Back in June, when Perry's candidacy was still in its speculative phase, the paper politely pointed out that as impressive as job growth has been in Texas, it had little to do with politicians in general, or Perry in particular. A booming energy business was the engine driving the Texas economy.

It is a rare (and probably unsuccessful) politician who does not exaggerate, so Perry's bloviating should be taken in stride.

Perry has been governor for almost 11 years, ever since his predecessor, George W. Bush, resigned after being elected president.

The Texas Observer, an admittedly liberal publication that is nevertheless respected for its shrewd political judgment, concluded that, in a comparison of the Bush and Perry governorships, Bush comes out the winner.

Bush, the Observer found, paid more attention to details and was stronger in terms of policy. Since Bush's style in Austin — as later in Washington — was to avoid getting his hands dirty and to delegate as much as possible, it leaves you wondering what Perry, "this good-looking rascal," as former president Bill Clinton has called him, has been doing for the past 3850-plus days.

Aside from politicking (and loudly calling for Texas to secede from the Union of which he now wants to be president), not a whole lot.

Voters will not hear much from Perry about his three gubernatorial "achievements": using the power of eminent domain to build toll roads; mandating teenage girls to be vaccinated against sexually transmitted diseases; and devising a new tax scheme that has Texas running what appears to be a never-ending deficit. His education-reform plan was so hare-brained that the Republican-controlled Texas House of Representatives rejected it — unanimously.

Perry is, as Texans say, "all hat, no cattle."

What Sarah Palin calls the lame-stream media have been making a mighty big deal of Perry's candidacy, fancying him the guy to mess with the well-coiffed campaigns of Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann — who, along with Perry, are the favorites among oddsmakers in the press.

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