Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.
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."
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