- James Moore: Rick Perry says he won't run for governor again but was vague on future plans
- Moore: Perry will run for president, even though his extremism is out of step
- Perry will use remaining time in office to raise money, launch Super PAC, he says
- Moore: He gave millions to corporations but has abysmal record on education, health care
In most of the old TV Westerns, there was a moment at the end where the cowboy rode away. He's delivered justice, empowered the townsfolk and ended the crisis. The good guy knows he will be needed elsewhere.
It's mythology, of course; the historical American West was bloody and brutal and often without honor. But there were still a lot of people who hoped the cowboy icon was precisely the self-image Texas Gov. Rick Perry was realizing as he took the stage to make an announcement about his "exciting future plans."
But this is not the scene where the cowboy rides away. It's a bit more like the one where he refuses to leave the saloon and has to be thrown out onto the street.
In spite of promoting his Monday event in San Antonio for a week, Perry didn't speak in any detail about his plans. Democrats and progressives had a bit of excitement, however. The governor said he was not running for re-election to the state's top political job. It will be 18 months before Perry leaves office after a 14-year tenure as the longest-serving governor in Texas history. And that final year and a half and what he's going to do with it is where Perry exercised his skills at being politically vague.
Which is why pundits tend to say Perry is hard to predict. But he's not. Since the day he switched political parties under the tutelage of Karl Rove almost a quarter century ago, Perry has been an extreme conservative who gave away hundreds of millions in taxpayer money to corporations. And when the tea party metastasized into Texas politics, he walked his conservatism over to the right edge of the flat earth.
His lust for guns and God and his hatred of abortion rights and gay rights make him a strong Republican primary candidate among the activist voters, but an unlikely voice for most of America seeking a president in 2016.
But he's still going to try, bless his heart.
Perry will use his remaining time in office to raise money. The signal for this was the site of his announcement, which was a Caterpillar plant outside San Antonio. The manufacturer's chief executive reportedly has given Perry more than $680,000 since he became governor, and Caterpillar received millions in tax abatements and a $10 million grant from the Texas Enterprise Fund, which has disproportionately awarded money to generous Perry campaign donors.
An Emerging Technology Fund and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas offered the same fiduciary delights for GOP business leaders that are believers in Perry. In fact, the institute's operation was so political all of the top scientists drawn to the project resigned and the district attorney in Austin launched a criminal investigation. When the district attorney was arrested on a driving while intoxicated charge, however, Perry vetoed funding for her unit, which was investigating his potential misconduct. Case closed.
It's good to be king. And he kind of is in Texas.
No one should expect anything new out of Perry. He will keep traveling the country annoying other state leaders while talking about jobs in Texas and acting like he persuaded God to pour dinosaur wine into our soil and then seduced California tech companies into moving where real estate and labor are less expensive. Texas has always been a job engine because of natural resources, weather and people, not politicians.
No mention will be made by Perry of the fact that a large number of jobs lured to Texas using taxpayer money are minimum wage, nor will he talk about how Texas is 50th in the percentage of population with a high school diploma, or how it's first in the nation with 28.8% uninsured.
The governor will keep arguing against Obamacare regardless of the fact it insures 3 million more Texans and reduces the uninsured overall to 12%. Don't expect him to detail, either, that his state is 50th in per capita spending on health care, 51st in benefits for the Women, Infants and Children program, and, even though he is pushing abortion restrictions, Perry will certainly not let anyone know he presides over a state ranked 50th in the percentage of women receiving prenatal care in their first trimesters.
And if his leadership has been so inspiring, why is it that Texas is also last in the percentage of the voting age population that actually votes?
Instead, look for Perry to associate more publicly with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative state think tank founded by one of his biggest donors. He'll try to gin up a little gravitas on issues, work on keeping three items in his head at one time, and launch a Super PAC that he can use to support conservative candidates in 2014, and then call upon them for returned favors when he runs in 2016.
The two Super PACs associated with his previous presidential stumble have about $500,000 already, and Perry has been consistently skilled at leveraging the governor's office to raise cash for his political fantasies.
The Texas governor has a good life. And he knows it. He's already drawing his $7,698 a month pension from the state, and his $150,000 salary, living in a beautiful mansion in downtown Austin, and traveling on jets with an entourage of security and sycophants. But that's nothing compared with being president. So, no, the cowboy isn't riding away. He's hanging around the saloon.
And trying to get another drink.
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