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Dear Yankee ::Eight things you ought to know before you start writing stories about Rick Perry. You’re welcome. Texas Monthly

July 18, 2011

Dear Yankee

Eight things you ought to know before you start writing stories about Rick Perry. You’re welcome.

by Paul Burka


Texas Gov. Rick Perry shows Bleyl Middle School seventh-grade students the cowboy boots he regularly wears underneath his suit pants.

Here we go again. As you know, Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, is contemplating a presidential run, which means that any day now, your boss will be sending you down here to take the measure of the man. Though he managed to avoid the 2012 spotlight longer than any other candidate, Perry, the nation’s longest-serving governor, has lately become, in the words of a recent NPR report, “the eight-hundred-pound gorilla on the sidelines of this race.” The trickle of stories about him has become a stream, and the minute Perry declares his candidacy, that stream will become a flood, a flood that will carry you straight to Austin. I am writing you this note in the hope that it will help you avoid the political and sociological clichés that Texas is subjected to every time one of our politicians seeks the national stage.

It’s an experience we’re all too familiar with. A Texan has occupied the White House in 17 of the past 48 years—just over a third of the time. Texas has become an incubator for presidents, as Virginia and Ohio were in America’s distant past. I’ll grant you that the presidents we have sent to Washington, from LBJ to 
George W. Bush, have not always served as the best advertisements for Texas. Nevertheless, we have endured a disproportionate amount of bad writing about our state from journalists who don’t know very much about the place, and I for one can’t bear to suffer through another campaign of it.

So please, heed this advice. Rick Perry, as you have no doubt already discovered, is not the easiest man to write about. He is secretive and leery of the media (sometimes to the point of hostility), and he has a strategically valuable knack for being underestimated by his critics. I have been writing about him since the eighties, when he began his career in the Texas Legislature. Along the way I have learned a few things, which I have arranged in this handy list of Eight Points to Keep in Mind When Writing About Rick Perry.

1. Perry is not George Bush. Don’t assume that because Bush and Perry served together in the Capitol, or because they’re both Republican Texans who wear boots, the two men have a lot in common. They don’t. As governor, Bush positioned himself as “a uniter, not a divider,” championing education as one of his main priorities. Perry has been the opposite kind of chief executive: dismissive of Democrats and fond of political maneuvers that put the heat on moderates within his own party. And in the legislative session that just wrapped up, he presided over a budget that cut $4 billion from public schools. The cultural differences are striking too. Perry, the son of a Big Country cotton farmer, is at ease with a populist tea party message; W., the scion of a political dynasty, always seemed more comfortable with the country club set. They have followed starkly different paths. When W. began his political career, he had a famous name, access to his father’s huge national fund-raising base, and the backing of the establishment wing of the Republican party. As a late arrival in the Republican ranks, Perry had no fund-raising base and little name identification. He had no choice but to gravitate to the conservative wing of the GOP, where he could prove up his conservative bona fides. Nor is there any love lost between the two men. When Perry ran for lieutenant governor, in 1998, Bush’s camp wanted everyone on the ticket to run positive races; the Perry team defied the order, and ever since, relations have been frosty. There is one other critical difference. Bush lost his first race, for Congress. Perry has won every race he’s ever run.

via Dear Yankee :: Texas Monthly.

  1. July 19, 2011 4:32 AM

    He is quickly becoming a favorite for me.

  2. August 2, 2011 10:20 AM

    And here are 30 more things you probably ought to know…

    #1 Rick Perry is a “big government” politician. When Rick Perry became the governor of Texas in 2000, the total spending by the Texas state government was approximately $49 billion. Ten years later it was approximately $90 billion. That is not exactly reducing the size of government.

    #2 The debt of the state of Texas is out of control. According to, the debt to GDP ratio in Texas is 22.9% and the debt per citizen is $10,645. In California (a total financial basket case), the debt to GDP ratio is just 18.7% and the debt per citizen is only $9932. If Rick Perry runs for president these are numbers he will want to keep well hidden.

    #3 The total debt of the Texas government has more than doubled since Rick Perry became governor. So what would the U.S. national debt look like after four (or eight) years of Rick Perry?

    #4 Rick Perry has spearheaded the effort to lease roads in Texas to foreign companies, to turn roads that are already free to drive on into toll roads, and to develop the Trans-Texas Corridor which would be part of the planned NAFTA superhighway system. If you really do deep research on this whole Trans-Texas Corridor nonsense you will see why no American should ever cast a single vote for Rick Perry.

    #5 Rick Perry claims that he has a “track record” of not raising taxes. That is a false claim. Rick Perry has repeatedly raised taxes and fees while he has been governor. Today, Texans are faced with significantly higher taxes and fees than they were before Rick Perry was elected.

    #6 Even with the oil boom in Texas, 23 states have a lower unemployment rate than Texas does.

    #7 In 1984, Perry was elected to the Texas House of Representatives as a Democrat from a district (64) that included his home county of Haskell.

    #8 Back in 1988, Rick Perry supported Al Gore for president. In fact, Rick Perry actually served as Al Gore’s campaign chairman in the state of Texas that year.

    #9 Between December 2007 and April 2011, weekly wages in the U.S. increased by about 5 percent. In the state of Texas they increased by just 0.6% over that same time period.

    #10 Texas now has one of the worst education systems in the nation. The following is from an opinion piece that was actually authored by Barbara Bush earlier this year….

    *36th in the nation in high school graduation rates. An estimated 3.8 million Texans do not have a high school diploma.

    *49th in verbal SAT scores, 47th in literacy and 46th in average math SAT scores.

    *33rd in the nation on teacher salaries.

    #11 Rick Perry attended the Bilderberg Group meetings in 2007. Associating himself with that organization should be a red flag for all American voters.

    #12 Texas has the highest percentage of workers making minimum wage out of all 50 states.

    #13 Rick Perry often gives speeches about illegal immigration, but when you look at the facts, he has been incredibly soft on the issue. If Rick Perry does not plan to secure the border, then he should not be president because illegal immigration is absolutely devastating many areas of the southwest United States.

    #14 In 2007, 221,000 residents of Texas were making minimum wage or less. By 2010, that number had risen to 550,000.

    #15 Rick Perry actually issued an executive order in 2007 that would have forced almost every single girl in the state of Texas to receive the Gardasil vaccine before entering the sixth grade. Perry would have put parents in a position where they would have had to fill out an application and beg the government not to inject their child with a highly controversial vaccine. Since then, very serious safety issues regarding this vaccine have come to light. Fortunately, lawmakers in Texas blocked what Perry was trying to do. According to Wikipedia, many were troubled when “apparent financial connections between Merck and Perry were reported by news outlets, such as a $6,000 campaign contribution and Merck’s hiring of former Perry Chief of Staff Mike Toomey to handle its Texas lobbying work.”

    #16 In 2008, Rick Perry stood beside Child Protective Services in Constitutional violation during the invasion and mass kidnapping of 464 FLDS children from their community in Eldorado, Texas. Perry spokeswoman Krista Piferrer said the governor retained full confidence in the agency, noting that “The governor is very proud of the work being done by CPS…CPS has handled a very complex situation both professionally and compassionately.” The 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin ruled that Texas child welfare authorities acted improperly and the children were returned to their parents. The governor ended up squandering 12.4 million of public money on the operation.

    #17 Perry supported and still supports Open Borders with Mexico

    #18 In 2001 Rick Perry signed the Dream Act into law allowing illegal immigrants in-state tuition. This is the blueprint for Obama’s own similar Federal Dream Act.

    #19 In 2004, Perry allowed the execution of an innocent man, Cameron Willingham, and then impeded an investigation into the whole matter, including firing and replacing three members of the Texas Forensic Science Commission.

    #20 Perry has called the 16th and 17th Amendments to the Constitution ” mistaken “. The 16th Amendment is the income tax amendment accounting for 45 % of all tax receipts. The 17th Amendment allows for direct election of U.S Senators, taking that right away from government.

    #21 Texas is the leading polluter among states in the union, leading the nation on carbon dioxide emissions, but when the state was sued by the EPA for not meeting clean air standards, Perry sued the federal government. He also is a global warming critic who called the 2010 BP oil spill an ” act of God .”

    #22 One in four children in Texas live below the poverty line. Perry cut $ 10 billion out of child support services even though Texas has a $ 8.2 Billion rainy day fund.

    #23 Perry said that Texas might have to secede from the Union.

    #24 Perry has called himself a “Prophet” and has said that he has been literally “called by God” to run for President. Matthew 7:15: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”

    #25 Rick Perry has had a questionable past when it comes to Social Issues. Recently in 2008, he endorsed Rudy Giuliani for President, causing Mike Huckabee to respond with the following in an email on 7-21-11: “For all his new found commitment to hyper-conservatism, he’ll get to explain why he supported pro-abortion, pro-same sex marriage Rudy Guiliani last time.”

    #26 Rick Perry recently stated that he supported New York’s Gay Marriage law by stating, “That’s New York, and that’s their business, and that’s fine with me”.

    #27 Less than a week later on 7-28-11, Perry flip-flopped his support for New York’s Gay Marriage law and the 10th Amendment by stating, “Indeed, to not pass the Federal Marriage Amendment would impinge on Texas’ and other states’ right not to have marriage forced upon them by these activist judges and these special interest groups.” Who is the real Rick Perry?

    #28 Perry also stated that Abortion is a states issue, but in this case didn’t flip-flop on it. “You can’t believe in the 10th Amendment for a few issues and then [for] something that doesn’t suit you say, ‘We’d rather not have states decide that.’”

    #28 Rick Perry took office in 2000 with 4.4% unemployment and ballooned it a whopping 4% to 8.2%.

    #29 Texas manufacturing payroll is 46 out of 50 in the U.S and the San Antonio Metro is 50 / 50 in big cities. Even though Texas has had better job numbers than the national average during the Obama Recession, jobs created there account for the lowest wages in the nation.

    #30 Texas has the nation’s worst uninsured health rate. More than 25 % of Texans lack health care coverage when the national average is 15 %. There are more uninsured residents in Texas than there are people in 33 states with an extraordinarily high level of uninsured children. Yet, Perry has been critical of Massachusetts health care program, even though Massachusetts is number one in the nation with the lowest uninsured healthcare rate around 2%.

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