Another Texas Republican for President?

Why Rick Perry could be a serious contender for the White House


The Republican presidential field looks less like an assemblage of candidates than a collection of fatal mistakes and irreparable flaws, with occasional embodiments of one or more of the Seven Deadly Sins.

Mitt Romney? A flip-flopper who inspired ObamaCare. Tim Pawlenty? A too-bashful critic of Romneycare, with a sleepy persona. Newt Gingrich? Serial adultery and terminal hubris.

Herman Cain? A rousing speaker with a future in talk radio. Rick Santorum? Not many politicians warm up for a presidential race by losing a Senate seat in a landslide. Michele Bachmann? Only one House member has ever gone directly to the presidency (James Garfield, in 1880).

Jon Huntsman? Service in the Obama administration is no way to gratify Republican voters. Ron Paul? A libertarian in a conservative party whose 2008 race yielded a paltry handful of convention delegates.

All this explains why a 2012 race is now tempting Rick Perry, the three-term governor of Texas whose liabilities come with some assets: a record of fiscal frugality and economic growth, a flair for channeling anti-Washington sentiment, a proven fundraising capacity, and an appealing biography (hardscrabble farm upbringing, Eagle Scout, Air Force pilot).

It helps that he delivers a good speech and looks like the lead in an old Western movie. Not for nothing did the late liberal columnist Molly Ivins dub him "Governor Goodhair."

As that unshakable nickname suggests, though, many people in the Lone Star State—and not only liberals—see Perry as a photogenic lightweight who got his office only by the luck of being first in the line of succession when Texas Gov. George W. Bush was elected president.

In 2006, he won re-election with just 39 percent of the vote in a four-way race. One opponent, musician and humorist Kinky Friedman, used a slogan that was a sly poke at Perry: "How hard can it be?" Only 9 percent of Texas Republicans say they would support him for president. He has not worn well with those who know him best.

Perry has a tendency to make people ask, "Did he really say that?"—as when he indicated an openness to secession, and when he dismissed a TV reporter with, "Adios, mofo." There is also the implausible yarn he tells of going for a run one morning without his security detail and, when a coyote threatened his dog, drawing his pistol and blowing the varmint away.

His biggest shortcoming is that most Americans don't ache with nostalgia for the last time a former Texas Republican governor occupied the White House. That concern is accurate but not clearly disqualifying.

When President George H.W. Bush lost badly in 1992, after all, it was safe to assume the country wouldn't elevate another member of the family to the White House anytime soon. No novelist would have dared to invent a winning black presidential candidate with a name like Barack Hussein Obama.

Perry's flaws are mostly the sort that other GOP candidates wish they had. His ostentatious disdain for federal interference is a tea partier's dream. His high-octane ideology makes an advantageous contrast to the suspicious moderation of Romney, Pawlenty, and Huntsman.

He inspires trust on the Christian right while getting valentines from the Wall Street Journal's editorial writers. He could quickly cut off the air supply of the other conservatives in the race.

And the general election? Perry's conservatism is too strong a brew for mainstream tastes, and his cowboy swagger will evoke unwanted memories of George W. Bush. In a normal election year, those handicaps would be insuperable.

But 2012 is not looking normal. If the economy remains sluggish and unemployment high, Americans are apt to be more weary of Obama than of his immediate predecessor. Ronald Reagan's alleged extremism didn't look so scary next to the economic chaos and foreign-policy humiliations of Jimmy Carter's presidency.

Democrats (and some Republicans) thought Reagan a smiling dunce. But the simple themes he enunciated were a welcome tonic when prevailing policies seemed to be failing.

Perry has the advantage of being able to claim that his state accounts for more than 37 percent of all the jobs created since the recession officially ended, which could make a vote for him feel more pragmatic than ideological.

As he considers his prospects, Perry may recall the old joke about the hiker who didn't need to be faster than the grizzly bear—just faster than his hiking buddy. Perry's flaws loom large, unless you compare them to anyone else's.


NEXT: The Big Show

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  1. When I lived in Texas I think his name was on the little govt gas pump stickers.

  2. The governor doesn’t have a lot of power in Texas. And the legislature only meets every two years. So, basically it is pretty hard for a governor to really fuck up the state. Hell Ann Richards, who generously had an IQ of around 90 couldn’t do it. When you think about it, Perry’s record in Texas is a big so what.

    1. You may not recall but Parry was Lt. Gov. before becoming Governor which in Texas is very powerful, so your ho-hum significantly under-estimates his stamp on the State’s current economic and business friendly status.

      1. Okay. Name five things he has done in either position that are responsible for Texas’ success.

        1. Okai.. Lezzee

          1) Eminent domain?
          2) Handing out kinky toll-road contracts to pocket-lining spanish buddies?
          3) Uh.. profit?

          1. The last time I lived in Texas his big thing was arresting drunks in bars because they might go driving later. He actually caused me to leave the Texas republican party over that one.

            1. Yeah, he’s definitely not a small-government Republican type. He pushes some weird legislation through.

              1. And as someone has noted below, the Texas Trans Corridor project he keeps trying to get pushed through is worth 10 reasons not to vote for him.

            2. He has made real effort to be more libertarian/tea-party-ish since then. It’s totally fake, but he at least has the courtesy to tell us the lies we want to hear nowdays.

              1. So refreshing in a politician. They have the courtesy to tell me exactly what I wanted to hear!

            3. Having lived through LBJ and Bush Jr, I think the Constitution should be amended to never allow another Texan to be president.

              1. Bush Jr was from Connecticut, fwiw.

        2. Name five things he has done in either position that are responsible for Texas’ success.

          1. Did not raise taxes
          2. Did not raise spending
          3. Did not increase regulations
          4. Did not attack businesses
          5. Did not invent some crazy financial/real estate scheme.

          Anyway i have no idea if any of the above is true…

          But when i see the Texas economy vs the rest of the county it is what i except to have been done…or in the above cases what was not done over the past 10 years or so.

          1. Note that all 5 of these could be accomplished by a French bulldog or a turnip for that matter.

            1. If team R nominates a turnip, I would definitely vote for them.

    2. The governor doesn’t have a lot of power in Texas.

      I see that as a feature, not a bug. Perry is used to not having much power, so he should show restraint as president. Compare that to Chicago, where the mayor will cancel the garbage collection in a alderman’s district for a week if that alderman doesn’t vote the way the mayor wants.

      1. Uh, that didn’t help much when Bush was elected.

      2. Perry may not have much power, but he’s very familiar with wielding what little bit he has to as much an extent as possible. If you think he knows restraint, you’re mistaken.

      3. It’s not a terribly good idea to rely on someone personal self-restraint when it comes to a politician wielding any power.

  3. Come 2012, the middle of the road voters (the deciders) will want to vote against Obama. All the repugs need to do is put someone up there they can hold their nose and vote for. I don’t see that candidate yet.

    1. That kind of thinking will give you someone like Huntsman. You then end up with a President who completes the transition to socialist hell hole so he can have the NYT call him a statesman. No thank you.

  4. He reminds me of Ev Mecham for some reason.

    1. And he has a 1972 LS5 Corvette with matching numbers and a 454 big block to sell you.

    2. To me he seems like a Brolin. Either one, I suppose.

  5. I love it how this

    Michele Bachmann? Only one House member has ever gone directly to the presidency (James Garfield, in 1880)

    is followed by this

    When President George H.W. Bush lost badly in 1992, after all, it was safe to assume the country wouldn’t elevate another member of the family to the White House anytime soon. No novelist would have dared to invent a winning black presidential candidate with a name like Barack Hussein Obama.

    Not that Bachmann could win a single primary or actually get the nomination or god forbid be elected. Right?

    1. I think Bachman has a great chance. The press shot their wad on Palin. They won’t be able to play the “she the crazy and the stupid” card on Bachman. They will try but no one other than liberals who hate her anyway will listen. Paul isn’t going to win. Pawlenty is a loser. Ginrich really is nuts. Huntsman is a Democrat. That leaves Bachman as the “anyone but Romney” candidate.

      1. She says the right things just often enough to be dangerous.

      2. Paul isn’t going to win.

        Not with that attitude he isn’t.

        1. This is why we can’t have nice things.

      3. I think Palin can help the Tea Party leaning Republicans very much by continuing to make independent public appearances. It will keep drawing the press’s fire away from candidates like Bachman. There are only so many column inches that newspapers can spare on their hate fests.

        1. Exactly. IF Bachman gets the nomination, the media is going to seriously regret going after Palin so hard.

        2. Yep.

          She fires up the base, and inflames the opposition into stupidity. Win-win for the tea party movement, and Republicans in general.

          The question is, does she also see it that way, or does she still want to run?

          1. Team her up with somebody named Turner and Bachmann will be unstoppable.

            1. It’ll be a four wheel drive that will roll on down the freeways of politics in overdrive. The Democrats will find that their wheels won’t turn, and they’ll have to take it like a man. If you think the Dems’ whining during Bush’s presidency was loud, well, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

              1. So they’ll be taking care of business?

              2. Will it be a Bachman Turner Overdrive?


                Sorry, couldn’t resist.

      4. Bachmann is a statist, but she sounds good in soundbites and doesn’t have the personal instability problems that Palin does.

        Right now she’s busy passing the abortion litmus test by trotting out how many kids she’s fostered/adopted.

        1. What ‘personal instability’ problems might those be?

  6. Warning: This might be the dumbest article you read today.

    Anthony D. Weiner’s letter of resignation was a matter-of-fact two sentences. … But his signature ? an oversize looping squiggle, almost larger than the entire typed text of his statement ? may offer some clues into his personality, at least according to handwriting experts.

    “He’s out of bounds; he’s not within boundaries,” said Dianne Peterson, a handwriting expert based in Tennessee. “His emotional slant is that his head overrules his heart; his head is in control of his heart. … [The big hump] represents a writer who wants to cover up, that they are protecting themselves through formality, ritual and control. … They pretend to live by the rules, but they don’t adhere to their own rules in private. … [The small mark above the signature represents] a slash of anger, when someone is angry about something.”

    [Handwriting expert Bart Baggett writes,] “People who choose a symbolic signature tend to have a cluster of traits in common: excessive ego, secretiveness, need for privacy, arrogance, and high self-confidence in their area of expertise. … Mr. Weiner probably possesses all of the above traits, but also has the ‘optimistic’ upward slant and the fluid wavy stroke symbolizing intelligence and fluid thinking.” …

    [Handwriting analyst Lynn says,] “Caution is seen on the ending stroke, because it’s a long line.” …

    “This seems to be a man with typical traits of a master politician,” Mr. Baggett wrote.

    1. Pinheads! They should get a body-language expert. That’s real science!

      1. I’d be your loofah any day…you big ol helpin of shoulda been a bartender in Boston.

    2. I understand handwriting analysis in terms of everyone’s handwriting being unique. And thus you can tell if that that George Washington autographed baseball is a fake.

      But the rest of it about your handwriting saying something about your personality is about on the level of astrology isn’t it? Is there any scientific evidence supporting this shit?

      1. Yes! People like it. Pinhead!

      2. I thought there was some validity to it, but that it says more about the state of mind of the writer at the time of writing than his personality in general. I notice my own handwriting changes frequently, particularly with the speed with which I’m writing, so it’s entirely plausible that a handwriting expert could look at a writing sample and conclude that the writer was rushed, impatient, or angry at the time. But that’s as far as it goes, IMO.

      3. …that George Washington autographed baseball is a fake.

        Pshaw! Next you will be telling me that my Abraham Lincoln surfboard and my ROWEX watch are fake.

      4. I vaguely recall that the CIA tried to use handwriting analysis to intuit whether or not, say, Kruschchev would drop the bomb, and the program eventually ended up canceled because of its inability to make useful predictions.

    3. This seems to be a man with typical traits of a master politician,

      I don’t like Weiner but that is really kicking a man when he is down.

      1. Its more polite than using the term sociopath.

    4. Wiener was acting like a douche throughout the entire media frenzy. Something tells me this analyst knew exactly what he was going to say before taking a first look at Wiener’s signature.

  7. A quasi-secessionist (+1), federal-government-hating (+1), albeit partially neoconservative(-1), Republican is immeasurably better than Mitt “Morally Depraved Statist Vaginal Cyst” Romney and Barack Obama.

    And Ron Paul’s not out of the race yet.

    1. Just 16 months to go. Summer, autumn, winter, spring, another summer, and half of another autumn and we’re there!

      1. Climate change! We aren’t going to make it another 16 months. We’re doomed! Doomed!

    2. Yeah lets vote for the guy who thinks the government has the power to force every teenage girl to get a vaccine! Who regularly vetoes or threatens to veto any legalization of gambling while LA and OK rely on Texans for most of their business. Who executes more people than the rest of the people combined. Need I go on?

      1. Please do. I do not wish to subscribe to your newsletter, but this forum is an adequate alternative.

    3. Rick Perry will hate the federal government until he’s in charge of it, just like Obama with war. I’m pretty sure being President would also quell any secessionist tendencies.

  8. And still no love for Gary Johnson. Not even a mention as a candidate.

    1. He’s the only one in the entire field I would vote for. Of course, as someone said above, we aren’t allowed to have nice things.

    2. Gary Johnson is my favorite candidate so far. If Julian Heicklen seeks the Libertarian nomination, he has my support.

  9. God I wish he would just fucking run.. Then after he returns battered and bruised after the GOP primaries, he’ll lose his re-election bid so Debra Medina would run again.

    1. I wish you’d find a bridge and end it, so we don’t have to listen to you idiotically misrepresent what “equal protection” means then troll the board for a day trying to make people forget how laughable your effort was.

    2. Hear hear! Medina was far superior; too bad she got bad press during the election.

      1. Finally, someone who knows how to spell “hear, hear!” Be careful, you might break the internet.

        1. I dunno; you used a comma, he didn’t.

          But that’s neither here nor there.

        2. It was just so sad, the media blackout and walling to keep her out of the primaries and debates. She destroyed both KBH and Perry in the debates.
          Even if she was wishy/washy on certain issues, the sole promise of abolishing property taxes was enough to win me over. Then again, that’s Team Red/Blue for you; more of the same statist shit.

  10. Only 9 percent of Texas Republicans say they would support him for president. He has not worn well with those who know him best.

    That just might maybe have something to do with a lil’ol’ thing called the Trans Texas Corridor, which apparently is not a polite topic to bring up these days in some circles.

    1. ^^^^THIS^^^^^

  11. “His ostentatious disdain for federal interference is a tea partier’s dream”

    He’s only against federal interference when it rubs his brand of statism the wrong way.

    1. You’re the moron who thinks equal protection means equal access to all resources, stop pretending your opinion is worth anything.

      1. You’re the moron who thinks equal protection means equal access to all resources


        1. Heheh.

          Welcome to the comment board, Sy!

          This magazine is called “Reason.”

          Kind of the same way that the ministry in 1984 was called “Love.”

          1. Reason is blasphemy. War is peace. Blappo is intelligent.

  12. Wasn’t there a little thing with Gov. Perry denying DNA tests to people claiming to be innocent + about to be executed?

    1. Yeah, he is a murderous ass, but that’s never gotten in the way of a nomination before, has it?

  13. I have lived in Texas throughout Perry’s terms. The ONLY reason we re-elected him this last time is that the former Houston mayor, sanctuary city Dem candidate was soooo much worse.
    If Perry gets the nomination, we may be doomed to another term of Obama.

  14. “If Perry gets the nomination, we may be doomed to another term of Obama.”

    I think there is some confusion here, this article is talking about Rick Perry, not Tyler

    1. Wait…Tyler Perry was nominated for something? Was it the Razzies?

  15. I think he has a bigger shortcoming than the last time the US had a Texas governor became president.

    Wilingham is a deal breaker for me.

    This is also being discussed over at TNC’s blog.


  16. The fact that Obama has better than a ZERO chance to win, tells you everything you need to know about this country.

    1. …that is win re-election.

    2. Combine “our first black president” with widespread belief in the tooth fairy and Santa Claus and how could you doubt a 50%+1 result would be a stretch?

  17. The late Molly Ivins was full of shit.

  18. In other news, Herman Cain is, apparently, failing the abortion litmus test because he expressed concern that abortion might not be a federal issue.

  19. “Adios, mofo”? I like…

    I’m disconcerted by Perry’s upcoming prayerfest. That’s just ass backwards stupidity. TTC and the dreaded vaccine don’t really bother me, because he backed off when hoi polloi started their wailing and hair pulling. Furthermore, even the editors of Reason readily acknowledge there is a time and place for eminent domain: when it really is for the PUBLIC good, which the TTC certainly would have been. Anti-TTC loudmouths sound like short-sighted pukes, honestly. Much like the stupid envirotransplants who are against any more dams in the Western States. In a few centuries, people would be mightly glad for such infrastructure.

    Perry talks up the 10th ammendment quite a bit, and I think thats possibly the most important issue. Properly exercising #10 will allow at least some pieces of this continent to avoid slipping into 3rd-worlddom.


  20. He was a democrat until the 90’s. He’s never worked in the private sector other than 4 years on his dad’s farm.

  21. Reason, How could you to forget to mention that Perry was campaign manager for Al Gore. Rick Perry is a wolf in sheeps clothing who attended the last Bilderberg meeting for coronation as The Bilderberger’s candidate. Vote for him at your own peril. Learn more about Perry at Alex Jones’ infowars.com and prisonplanet.tv

    1. Rick Perry is a slave of his inter-dimensional Reptilian masters, if his body hasn’t been totally possessed by now. Learn more about Rick Perry and his plan to stop the coming evolution of humanity to the state of enlightened masters of the Seventh Ray at infowars.com and prisonplanet.tv

      1. We’ll be right back with more of David Icke, but first. Have I told you about the C Crane companies marvelous radios?

  22. Put 2 Billion barrels worth of dino sh!t that sells for $100+ per barrel under any state in the union and you would have a economic success story.

    The economic boom in Texas tells you about as much about the virtues of Rick Perry’s Republican governance as the economic wonders of Saudi Arabia tells you about the virtues of Whahabbi Islamic theocracy.

  23. The article should be entitled, “Another Texas Loudmouth….”

  24. Texas’ Perry is a career politician without any substance. Pure bluff and bluster. Leader of the Texas’ Social Conservative Libertarian religious group, also known as the Texas Legislature have shoved forward their religious beliefs onto the Texas population, whether they liked it or not. They have passed frivolous legislation. Instead, they failed to attack the budget and provide funding for Texas school children. They passed extraneous laws that had nothing to do with jobs or the economy, but rather their religious beliefs! The Texas Republican(GOP/TEA) Party is now the party of record deficits($27 billion), historic budget failures($27 billion), spending on un-necessary legislation, imposing Texas’s Social Conservative Libertarian religious acts(Sonogram Bill), and failure to create job creation programs for Texans. There are too many getting rich off the dole of taxpayer monies. Brings to mind – “Politicians are like diapers, they need to be changed often and for the same reason” – Jim Hightower. There’s nothing wrong with Conservatism! The trouble is the Social Conservative Libertarian religious lunatics trying to force their skewered beliefs down everyone else’s throat! We’re not all their religion! All women should not have to answer to anyone about their bodies and carrying a baby to term. Pregnant Texas women should not be required by law to have a Sonogram. I’ll defend to the death your right to carry your baby to term, but I’ll defend to the death my wife’s right and my right to make our own decision, without any interference from any religious lunatic fanatics! “Republicans took charge of 25 state legislatures and 29 governors’ offices in the 2010 elections, promising to focus on the sputtering economy and unemployment crisis. In the first legislative session of 2011, however, GOP lawmakers introduced an unprecedented number of bills restricting abortion rights for women.” This is the mantra of the extreme right-winged pseudo-politicians turning into religious rightist! Who do these Radical religious zealots think they are forcing their religious beliefs onto the citizens? These radical right-winged religious zealots have introduced more than 900 bills concerning reproductive health were brought forward across the nation before the end of March 2011! The Hyde Amendment, which was adopted nearly four decades ago, already blocks all federal funding from being used for abortions, except in the case of incest or rape, but the GOP/TEA lunatic fringe has forced their beliefs forward. These bills are moving rapidly in the states, and they severely limit women’s access to and ability to pay for abortions. The pro-life movement has gone beyond just hopin’ that we can save a few babies, they want to control the women of America much like the Saudi’s control their women. The intense focus on restricting abortion access and cutting funds to family planning so far in 2011 is causing progressive lawmakers and even some conservatives to question how state legislatures have strayed so far from their campaign promises to focus on job creation. WAKE UP AMERICA – VOTE!

  25. WARNING,BILDERBERG,BILDERBERG ,BILDRBERG,Rick Perry is a One World Order globalist.

  26. Perry, Bachmann, Cain, Romney, Pawlenty, Huntsman, Santorum, Gingrich, Paul…you name it. Any of them are preferable to the person sitting in the WH CIC chair today. Here’s vintage obama in 2001: “…the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as its been interpreted and Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can’t do to you. Says what the Federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf, and that hasn’t shifted and one of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was, um, because the civil rights movement became so court focused I think there was a tendancy to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. In some ways we still suffer from that.” You want more of this guy?

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