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GENE HEALY: RICK PERRY and the contradictions of a conservative – Washington Examiner

August 23, 2011

Rick Perry and the contradictions of a conservative

By: Gene Healy | Examiner Columnist Follow Him @Genehealy | 08/22/11 8:05 PM

Last week, Ezra Klein, star liberal blogger for the Washington Post, enthused that “Rick Perry’s book is good. Really.”

Unlike most campaign books, Klein reported, “Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington” is “a book about Rick Perry’s ideas. And his big idea is that most everything the federal government does is unconstitutional.”

That sounded like chicken soup for my frosty libertarian soul, so I got a copy and dug right in.

I won’t go as far as Klein — to say the book is “good” smacks of “the soft bigotry of low expectations,” as Perry’s fellow ex-cheerleader and former Texas governor George W. Bush once put it. If Barry Goldwater’s “The Conscience of a Conservative” was Merle Haggard, “Fed Up!” is strictly Lee Greenwood.

Still, Perry’s book is perhaps the most radical manifesto from a top-tier presidential candidate since Goldwater’s 1960 tome — and some of the ideas it contains are very good indeed.

It’s clear from “Fed Up!” that the guy with a degree in animal science from Texas A&M understands the Constitution better than Barack Obama, former president of the Harvard Law Review.

The book explains clearly how overbroad interpretations of the Constitution’s Commerce and General Welfare clauses have led to a bloated federal government that’s consuming the nation’s future.

“Fed Up!” also reflects a solid appreciation of how federalism allows people of diverse viewpoints to live under one national government. As Perry puts it, “if you don’t like medicinal marijuana and gay marriage, don’t move to California.”

Alas, Perry has already showed Mitt Romney-style flexibility on federalism, supporting a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. And, as the Wall Street Journal reports, “Perry Is Suddenly Less ‘Fed Up’ Over Social Security.”

via Rick Perry and the contradictions of a conservative | Gene Healy | Columnists | Washington Examiner.

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