Skip to main content

Cowboy Rick Perry will ride again -- in 2016

By James Moore, Special to CNN
July 10, 2013 -- Updated 1315 GMT (2115 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 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

Editor's note: James C. Moore is a business consultant and principal at Big Bend Strategies. He is co-author of "Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential" and "Adios Mofo: Why Rick Perry Will Make America Miss George W. Bush," and an on-air TV political analyst.

(CNN) -- 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.

James C. Moore
James C. Moore

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.

2012: Perry: In his own words
Showdown over abortion in Texas

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.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions in this commentary are solely those of James C. Moore.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1620 GMT (0020 HKT)
Frida Ghitis says a poll of 14 Muslim-majority nations show people are increasingly opposed to extremism.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1828 GMT (0228 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says spending more on immigation enforcement isn't going to stop the flow of people seeking refuge in the U.S.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 2048 GMT (0448 HKT)
Faisal Gill had top security clearance and worked for the Department of Homeland Security. That's why it was a complete shock to learn the NSA had him under surveillance.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1841 GMT (0241 HKT)
Kevin Sabet says the scientific verdict is that marijuana can be dangerous, and Colorado should be a warning to states contemplating legalizing pot.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 2047 GMT (0447 HKT)
World War I ushered in an era of chemical weapons use that inflicted agonizing injury and death. Its lethal legacy lingers into conflicts today, Paul Schulte says
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1137 GMT (1937 HKT)
Tom Foley and Ben Zimmer say Detroit's recent bankruptcy draws attention to a festering problem in America -- cities big and small are failing to keep up with change.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1201 GMT (2001 HKT)
Mel Robbins says many people think there's "something suspicious" about Leanna Harris. But there are other interpretations of her behavior
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
Newt Gingrich warns that President Obama's border plan spends too much and doesn't do what is needed
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 1753 GMT (0153 HKT)
Amy Bass says Germany's rout of Brazil on its home turf was brutal, but in defeat the Brazilian fans' respect for the victors showed why soccer is called 'the beautiful game'
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 1754 GMT (0154 HKT)
Errol Lewis says if it really wants to woo black voters away from the Democrats, the GOP better get behind its black candidates
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 2107 GMT (0507 HKT)
Aaron Carroll explains how vaccines can prevent illnesses like measles, which are on the rise
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 0008 GMT (0808 HKT)
Aaron Miller says if you think the ongoing escalation between Israel and Hamas over Gaza will force a moment of truth, better think again
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 2241 GMT (0641 HKT)
Martin Luther King Jr. fought and died so blacks would no longer be viewed as inferior but rather enjoy the same inherent rights given to whites in America.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 1147 GMT (1947 HKT)
Alex Castellanos says recent low approval ratings spell further trouble for the President
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 0349 GMT (1149 HKT)
Paul Begala says Boehner's plan to sue Obama may be a stunt for the tea party, or he may be hoping the Supreme Court's right wing will advance the GOP agenda that he could not
July 6, 2014 -- Updated 1659 GMT (0059 HKT)
The rapture is a bizarre teaching in fundamentalist circles, made up by a 19th-century theologian, says Jay Parini. It may have no biblical validity, but is a really entertaining plot device in new HBO series
July 7, 2014 -- Updated 1749 GMT (0149 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette: President Obama needs to send U.S. marshals to protect relocating immigrant kids.
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 1903 GMT (0303 HKT)
Norman Matloff says a secret wage theft pact between Google, Apple and others highlights ethics problems in Silicon Valley.
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 2237 GMT (0637 HKT)
The mother of murdered Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khder cries as she meets Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, West Bank on July 7, 2014.
Naseem Tuffaha says the killing of Israeli teenagers has rightly brought the world's condemnation, but Palestinian victims like his cousin's slain son have been largely reduced to faceless, nameless statistics.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 2028 GMT (0428 HKT)
Danny Cevallos says charging the dad in the hot car death case with felony murder, predicated on child neglect, was a smart strategic move.
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 1326 GMT (2126 HKT)
Van Jones says our nation is sitting on a goldmine of untapped talent. The tech companies need jobs, young Latinos and blacks need jobs -- so how about a training pipeline?
July 7, 2014 -- Updated 1309 GMT (2109 HKT)
A drug that holds hope in the battle against hepatitis C costs $1,000 per pill. We can't solve a public health crisis when drug makers charge such exorbitant prices, Karen Ignagni says.
July 7, 2014 -- Updated 1133 GMT (1933 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says our political environment is filled with investigations or accusations of another scandal; all have their roots in the scandal that brought down Richard Nixon
July 6, 2014 -- Updated 1814 GMT (0214 HKT)
Sally Kohn says Boehner's lawsuit threat is nonsense that wastes taxpayer money, distracts from GOP's failure to pass laws to help Americans
July 7, 2014 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Speaker John Boehner says President Obama has circumvented Congress with his executive actions and plans on filing suit against the President this month
ADVERTISEMENT