Political resume: Rick Perry has been involved in Texas electoral politics since 1984, when he was elected to their House of Representatives (as a Democrat.) He served three terms there before switching parties and winning his first statewide election in 1990 to become the state’s Agriculture Commissioner. There he served two terms before seeking the Lieutenant Governor’s chair in 1998, which he won as second banana to then-Governor George W. Bush. Once Bush became President, Perry became the new governor on December 21, 2000. He has served there since, winning elections in 2002, 2006, and 2010 to become the nation’s longest-tenured governor. Once Perry announced his Presidential bid on August 13, he shot to the top of the GOP sweepstakes – his current RealClearPolitics.com polling average is 29.2 percent, as he ranges from 23% to 36% in various polls they average.
On campaign finance/election reform (three points): While Rick is chastised by others for “crony capitalism” (more on that later) it appears he’s taking advantage of the open system we have now, and that’s fine as long as they’re up front about it. More to the point, he just signed a solid new voter ID law in Texas, so he gets three points.
On property rights (five points): While Rick heads a state which gets a good grade on the subject of eminent domain abuse, the process behind constructing the Trans-Texas Corridor gives me pause. As you’ll see later, this portion of his agenda may explain some other points of view, so I’ll give Rick just three points.
On the Second Amendment (seven points): Rick has been a gun owner-friendly governor, so I see no reason why he would change in Washington. Seven points.
On education (eight points): While Rick doesn’t overtly state this, the fact that he didn’t take “Race to the Top” money because he didn’t want federal control over Texas schools tells me he doesn’t have a lot of use for the Department of Education. I’ll give him seven points here.
On the Long War/veterans affairs (nine points): Unfortunately, Perry (as a governor) doesn’t have a lot of foreign policy experience and I find his shifting positions on Iraq and Afghanistan a bit troubling. But as an Air Force veteran, he’s prone to saying “there is no other state that takes care of its veterans better than the state of Texas.” So he should be a good president for veterans, and I’ll grant him five points based mostly on that.
On immigration (eleven points): Like most of his opponents, Perry is an advocate of securing the borders, but doesn’t want to commit to any sort of immigration policy until that’s done. My biggest issue with Perry is the Texas DREAM Act, which he signed way back in 2001 and still supports, despite other border state governors calling on him to repeal it. I didn’t spend time this summer trying to get a petition signed and supported to have someone who favors a bill elected. I’m deducting five points.
On energy independence (twelve points): I really wish that, as a governor of an oil and gas producing state, Rick would be a little more specific on this subject – he doesn’t even point to this as a job creator on his campaign site. Yes, he’s told the EPA where to go, but I want a little more assurance than I got here. And when he gets mealy-mouthed to Iowa corn farmers, again, I don’t know how sincere he’s being. I’ll give him just five points here.
On entitlements (thirteen points): We’ve all heard that Perry (correctly, I might add) called Social Security a ‘Ponzi scheme.’ But even better, Perry pisses off the establishment by wishing to dismantle the entitlement system. Good for him, because he’s right on the money – so don’t back away! That step back cost him one of the thirteen points. And I didn’t even mention he’d repeal Obamacare.
On trade and job creation (fourteen points): Okay, based on the record Rick has this category licked. He doesn’t fail to point out how Texas led the nation in job creation. He is also on record as wishing to be a “tough trader,” although he’s supported free trade agreements, almost to a fault (see Trans-Texas Corridor above.) Yet the Club for Growth has a point: he’s inherited a good situation with a favorable legislative climate. Will he do as well in Washington? I’ll give him 11 points.
On taxation and the role of government (fifteen points): Perry has a decent record at the state level, but I’m troubled a bit that he’s also retreating from a call in his book to scrap the current system and move to a flat tax or (preferably) the FairTax. The problem is that he’s right but may not have the guts to carry out his ideas to reduce government, and can occasionally wander into an area best left to parents. He gets eleven points.
Intangibles (three points): Rick Perry is solidly pro-life, and favors marriage between one man and woman. Again, though, he favors the Constitutional route rather than advocating states decide the right way. He’s also a supporter of Israel, so that’s a plus. But there’s an intangible that I haven’t run across with any other candidate and that’s how little issue information he shares on his website. If someone wants to know about him besides the platitudes he’s got, they have to dig deep. And as he’s walked back some of his positions it makes me question his sincerity – remember, he wasn’t going to run for President but then decided to. Was that a ploy? In all, this category is a wash.
Total (maximum, 100 points): Rick may be the frontrunner in the polls, but he’s firmly entrenched in my second tier with 59 points overall.
Had Perry not stumbled so badly on immigration he may have won. But as I noted before the jump, Perry seems to have decided that what he wrote in his book isn’t going to sell to the American public. And there’s no question the press and Democrats (but I repeat myself) are going to jump on his Social Security statements as well as other items he correctly points out in his book. Why not stand up for the principles and try to explain them further while you have the bully pulpit rather than say, no, I really don’t mean what I said? Show some leadership!
And of course the question is now whether Rick is the new flavor of the month, or do his polling numbers show some staying power? That remains to be seen, although the only top contender who may jump in now is Sarah Palin and the press has done its part in trying to thoroughly destroy her.
As it stands, he may well go all the way. Would I vote for him? Of course, are you kidding? If I only have to fight him on the immigration issue that’s a lot better than having to face off against Barack Obama on practically all fronts. But I would hold him to those standards he had in his book and prove to me he is serious about cutting the size and scope of the federal government. Unlike Ronald Reagan, Perry may well have a Congress which is serious about perhaps repealing the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Amendments, truly making Social Security a voluntary program one can opt out of, and perhaps placing other entitlements in the hands of the several states where they belong. It’s the path we need to go down to save our Republic as we know it. I think he knows it too but is afraid people won’t vote for him.
Well, Ronald Reagan said what he meant to do in similar economic circumstances even though the press hated it. He won. Be unapologetic and people will understand. Challenge them to question both their beliefs and the way things have always been and you will be rewarded. Those who make up the real America know what needs to be done, they just need a leader to place them there.
Tomorrow at high noon you’ll find out who I think that leader could be.