By Amitabh Pal on September 25, 2010

Governor George W. Bush’s successor is so bad that he makes Dubya look good by comparison.

Current Texas Governor Rick Perry was a luncheon speaker at the annual conference of editorial writers in Dallas on Thursday afternoon, and it wasn’t a pretty sight.

Perry gave a speech that was better suited for a tea party gathering. He railed against the federal government, which he claimed was leading the country on a path where the “essence of our republic and our God-given freedoms” could be lost forever. Strange that he had lost his voice on this subject when his predecessor transferred to the White House and encroached on civil liberties like nobody’s business.

Perry also took credit for the marginally superior performance of Texas in the Great Recession. He attributed it to a combination of fiscal prudence, the right regulatory policies, tort reform and accountability of public schools—all of which, he claimed, comprised the “Texas Way,” nay, the “American way.”

To the extent that Texas has done not as badly as some other states is largely due to factors that have little to do with Perry’s governance or economic philosophy, such as high energy prices and comparatively stable real estate.

And Paul Krugman questions whether even Texas has fared all that much better. “A quick look at state unemployment rates doesn’t suggest anything especially miraculous going on,” Krugman writes, constructing a chart showing comparative unemployment rates in Texas, New York, and Massachusetts. “Some miracle,” he concludes.

No matter. The facts weren’t about to stop Perry from going on and on about how great a job he’s doing. All that my bored head could think about was the late, great Texan Molly Ivins’s description of him as Governor Goodhair.

Perry capped his performance by declining to take questions from us. His staff pleaded time constraints. Never mind that he had time enough to work the room, chat up conservative commentator Cal Thomas, and give an impromptu television interview in the hallway.

Apparently, this is part of a pattern. For all his bravado, in his re-election campaign he has refused to meet with Texas newspaper editorial boards or to debate his opponent, Bill White.

Rick Perry is an embarrassment to a state that has, unfortunately, produced its fair share.

If you liked this article by Amitabh Pal, the managing editor of The Progressive magazine, please check out his article entitled "Dinesh D’Souza and Gingrich Smear Obama—Viciously."

Follow Amitabh Pal @amitpal on Twitter

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


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