Those who are nostalgic for the unfulfilled promises of the good ole days of Bush-Cheney, must be salivating over the candidacy of Texas governor Rick "Goodhair" Perry. While George W.Bush and Perry have some outwardly common traits and backgrounds - faux cowboy swagger, multi-term governors of Texas, death penalty enthusiasts, tendency to shoot from the mouth about things they don't know, darlings of the right wing etc., the two are not very similar human beings. Also their early enablers, sponsors and handlers belong to somewhat different classes of power-brokers although Bush later became a puppet in the hands of the same kind of people who made Perry. While the far right loved Bush, he did not rise from their ranks. He was an outsider who played their game most of the time but did not always consult them to write his playbook during his early years as a politician. Perry on the other hand, is a local boy and a carefully cultivated product of the far right fundamentalist Christian camp of Texas politics. He is far more insidious, ignorant, corrupt and indebted to his benefactors than Bush was during his pre-White House years. In fact, Perry's mean hearted antics as governor, makes Bush's tenure in Texas look like a fairly decent and compassionate period.
Here are two articles that describe Perry's revival tent preacher style politics and the troubling secrecy with which he has operated during his long stint as the governor of Texas.
Kathleen Parker in the Washington Post:
Talk about a perfect-storm, composite candidate. Combine Elmer Gantry’s nose for converts, Ronald Reagan’s folksy confidence and Sarah Palin’s disdain for the elites — and that dog hunts.
Perry doesn’t just believe, he evangelizes. He summons prayer meetings. He reads scripture while callers are on hold. Not incidentally, he’s a successful governor. Perhaps most important, he’s a wall-scaling fundraiser whose instincts make him a force of nature in the political landscape...
If we are descended of some blend of apes, then we can’t have been created in God’s image. If we establish Earth’s age at 4.5 billion years, then we contradict the biblical view that God created the world just 6,500 years ago. And finally, if we say that climate change is partly the result of man’s actions, then God can’t be the One who punishes man’s sins with floods, droughts, earthquakes and hurricanes. If He wants the climate to change, then He will so ordain, and we’ll pray more.
Perry knows he has to make clear that God is his wingman. And this conviction seems not only to be sincere, but also to be relatively noncontroversial in the GOP’s church — and perhaps beyond. He understands that his base cares more that the president is clear on his ranking in the planetary order than whether he can schmooze with European leaders or, heaven forbid, the media. And this is why Perry could easily steal the nomination from Romney.
From the Houston Chronicle (do read this one in full):
When then-Gov. George W. Bush ran for president in 2000, his office released a treasure trove of information relating to his years as Texas’ chief executive.
Some 3,125 pages detailing Bush’s appointments during 1995-1998 allowed news organizations to remark on the exact number of lobbyists and campaign donors with whom he met. The records showed which state lawmakers Bush conferred with – and on what subject – and detailed how much time he spent reviewing capital punishment cases prior to executions. The records showed when he arrived at the office, when he took time off for the gym and when he went home. In short, the documents provided a portrait of the leadership style of a candidate for president of the United States.
Now, as Gov. Rick Perryembarks on a presidential campaign, it is unlikely the public will access records that provide many revealing details about his decade-long tenure as governor. While Perry extols open government – most recently challenging Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to “open the books” of the nation’s central bank – he has adopted policies that shroud his own office in a purposeful opaqueness that confounds prying reporters – or any member of the public questioning his policies.
He has been governor longer than anyone in Texas history, but there is a lot the public does not know about Rick Perry. Where does he go each day, and with whom does he talk? What is discussed when he meets with top state agency executives? How does he evaluate a clemency request from a death row inmate? Or an application for a grant from his Emerging Technology Fund? What opinions are expressed to him through email and how does he respond?
Missed legal deadlines
Those are just some of the questions left largely unanswered by Perry’s decisions to bar the public from viewing details of his travel, his daily schedule and most of his emails.
Over the past decade, the Perry administration has withheld information in response to some 100 open-records requests, instead seeking review by the Texas Attorney General’s Office. In two cases in the past year, Perry’s office acknowledged it failed to meet legal deadlines for responding to the requests, or otherwise delayed in violation of well-established procedures outlined in the Texas Public Information Act.
Most of the withheld documents involved contracts, bidding and oversight of programs in which state money flows to entrepreneurs, privately held companies and universities from Perry’s two economic development funds, the Emerging Technology Fund and the Texas Enterprise Fund. In some cases, the requests involve entities headed by Perry campaign donors and political appointees. Perry also chose to withhold information when third parties complained they would release proprietary information or violate trade secrets.
I don't know which quality bodes more ill if a man like Perry were to become the president of America. Perhaps his college transcript was an early and accurate indicator of the danger that an ignoramus Perry leadership spells for the nation.