Perry’s Week in Review

Governor stumbles on the trail, leads in the polls


Eileen Smith

Rick Perry returned to Austin last Saturday after a whirlwind presidential rock star tour kicked off by his official announcement in South Carolina—“I’ll work every day to try to make Washington, D.C. as inconsequential in your life as I can!”—followed by pivotal campaign stops in key primary states Iowa and New Hampshire. However Perry struggled a little in the Granite State, where he was angrily confronted by senior citizens and elementary school boys. Luckily, not at the same time.

POPOVER AND RUN: At a local restaurant called Popovers on the Square, Perry encountered a motley crew of protesting and sign-wielding seniors screaming, “Hands off Social Security and Medicare!” Perry’s book, Fed Up!, an anti-government manifesto published in 2010, has been receiving closer scrutiny by the national media and, apparently, New Hampshire assisted-living book clubs. One senior citizen questioned the governor about his claim that Social Security was unconstitutional and amounted to a “ponzi scam.” Instead of responding in a reasonable fashion, Perry took a page from a Snickers commercial and immediately stuffed a popover in his mouth, said that he had a “big mouthful” and was unable to talk. Then he left.

On another stop, Perry was approached by a sincere 9-year-old boy and future godless liberal voter who asked him what he thought of evolution. Perry believes in evolution about as much as he believes in global warming and government regulation. Not surprisingly Perry skirted the issue, telling the boy that “it’s a theory that’s out there and it’s got some gaps in it…In Texas, we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools.” But, as the Observer’s Forrest Wilder pointed out, that’s not actually true. It’s unconstitutional to teach creationism in public schools. Which is why Perry thinks students should be homeschooled.

This was the week that The  New York Times  “broke the story” of the Perry administration’s cozy back-scratching relationship with his top donors and supporters. But is it really “breaking” if the Texas media has been reporting on it for years now? Since his reign as governor began, Perry has been handing out grants, tax breaks and lucrative contracts to some of his best friends, meaning his most generous supporters. The NYT article mentions such big-dog donors as Austin entrepreneur John McHale, a one-time Democratic contributor (shifty as he may be); David M. Shanahan, McHale’s partner at a pharmaceutical vaccine start-up called G-Con; businessman and self-described philanthropist James R. Leininger, whose main mission in life is private school vouchers; and homebuilder and one-time biggest political donor in Texas, Bob Perry. Of course, these aren’t the only recipients of Perry’s generosity. There’s simply not enough room to list them all. Will any of this hurt him? It hasn’t touched him so far.

WE SHALL OVERCOME … THE TOP MARGINAL TAX RATE: In South Carolina, Perry connected the civil rights movement to the Republican fight for lower corporate taxes. Yes, Republicans have certainly been unjustly discriminated against in their long march toward freeing America from the heavy chains of overtaxation. When asked about civil rights history, given that he was in Rock Hill, the site of the Friendship Nine sit-in at a segregated lunch counter, Perry had this to say: “Listen, America’s gone a long way from the standpoint of civil rights and thank God we have…And as we go forward, America needs to be about freedom. It needs to be about freedom from overtaxation, freedom from over-litigation, freedom from over-regulation.” Yes, wealthy corporations have been relegated to the back of the bus for far too long.

AND PERRY TAKES THE LEAD!: The latest Gallup poll (as of Aug. 24) shows Perry with a wide lead over one-time frontrunner Mitt Romney among Republican voters, 29 to 17 percent. Ron Paul is at 13 percent, with Michele Bachmann at 10 percent. The most recent PPP poll, also released Wednesday, shows Perry leading Romney by 13 points. So does this mean that Perry will win the nomination? Of course it does. Just like Rudy Giuliani in 2008. And John McCain in 2000. Howard Dean in 2004. Colin Powell in 1996. Clearly frontrunners always win. Look at our current president, Hillary Clinton.

Look for Sarah Palin to take it all.