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Gov. Perry helping to Keep Drippin Normal In Dripping Springs, there appeared to be only one member of the local media on the sceneand he had driven his own vehicle. A television crew from Houston had also showed up. They didn’t seem to fit the “local media” category, but Black had made an exception for them. While everybody was admiring the bus, Perry materialized behind us and climbed up on a flat-bed trailer stacked with hay bales. Though he was known in the press corps for never breaking a sweat, he ran a hand over his forehead anywaypossibly an attempt to show solidarity with the perspiring mob and said, “As soon as we’re done here, I think I’m going to let it rain a little bit.” Wearing dark, expensive-looking slacks, a white shirt, blue tie and cufflinks, Perry looked like a trial lawyer. But he took care of that image problem right away when a fan handed him a yellow T-shirt emblazoned with the message, “Keep Drippin Normal.” He pulled the T-shirt on over his dress shirt and tie. Now he had a double layer of clothing, but he still wasn’t beading up. “Those other folks can stay weird;’ he said, referring to Austin liberals, “but we’re going to stay normal here in Drippin’.” Perry apologized for his tardiness, explaining that he was running late because he had attended services for former Gov. Ann Richards, who had died several days earlier. “You know, Ann and I didn’t necessarily share the same philosophy, but one thing I promise you we did share was an abiding love for the great state of Texas. She’ll be missed greatly?’ On that somber note, Perry succeeded in quieting the crowd and demonstrating his compassion. Then he launched into an upbeat stump speech. “There’s some people out there who think leadership is just talking the talk. Telling folks what they’re against, instead of telling people what they’re for. Making some big pie-in-the-sky promises without having down-to-earth price tags. That may pass for leadership in Massachusetts, but that don’t pass the smell test in Texas.” Perry sounded a lot like W: same cadences, same cowboy twang, same rednecky grammar. He’s also an exercise the same low fat-to-muscle ratio. He’s got the swagger too. Strutting back and forth on the stage, pivoting on his black cowboy boots, he chopped the air with his hands, pointed skyward, gesticulated, grimaced, smiled. A shrink-government type and ardent conservative who believes in trickle-down economics, Perry touted the state’s business-friendly economy, noting that 630,000 jobs have been created in the last three years. “Nothing tickles me more than to call up Arnold and tell him, ‘Well, we got another one of your companies coming to Texas, thank ya:” Perry pointed out that he had vetoed $2.5 billion in proposed.spending in the state budget, six times more than all the governors combined since 1978. “That’s a purty interesting factoid,” he added. I thought it was a purty factoid, too, and checked the budget numbers with Eva DeLuna Castro, a budget analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities, who said the governor was being a little disingenuous about the budget cuts, which he was required to make because of revenue shortfalls. “He’s taking credit for something he didn’t ask for;’ she said. But Perry’s figures on the job market did check out and may have even been a little on the low side, according to Bob Crawley, a labor market analyst for the Texas Workforce Commission. Sounding like a Democrat, Perry went on to boast about his accomplishments in public education, including acrossthe-board pay raises for teachers. True enough, but education advocates say teacher pay in Texas is still abysmally OCTOBER 6, 2006 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17