August 28, 2011
On US talk radio the other evening, I happened to mention to my hosts how much better things were looking in America, now that they had Rick Perry as a voting option. President Obama is toast – I think on that we can all agree. But up until quite recently, we weren’t exactly spoilt for choice as to who might replace him. Now that Bachmann has shown she has legs and Perry has finally ended his shilly-shallying as to whether or not to run, Americans can look to the future with at least a glimmer of hope.
But how much hope, that’s the question. I can’t say that either is my dream candidate. My dream candidate would either have been Paul Ryan or Allen West. Yeah yeah, too young and inexperienced to run, yadda yadda, better chance next time, I’ve heard all that before. The point though, surely, is that there may not be a next time. This next presidency is it: the Big One; the one that will decide whether America – and by extent the free West – gets to climb out of the Depression and spend a few more decades in the sun, or whether the Barbarians storm through the gates and we enter a new Dark Ages.
Anyway, when I mentioned Perry’s name there was what sounded like a deathly silence. Perhaps I was imagining it but I think what I was hearing was the scepticism and uncertainty a lot of Republicans and independents are feeling towards Perry right now.
When I heard him speak in Dallas a few months ago at the Heritage Foundation’s Resource Bank conference I was quite impressed. I like Texas. I like the spirit of Texas. It is – as Perry was at pains to point out – the Anti-California, which is to say it is virulently anti-regulation, pro-liberty, pro-low-taxation. This is why – duh – Texas employment levels have risen in the last decade even as California’s have plummeted. Perry was most tickled at the fact that the Californian state government had sent a delegation to Texas to see whether it could learn anything from its success.
What I liked about Perry was his folksy but straight-talking manner. Everyone hears a lot of his fellow Texan Dubya in him. But I heard also the odd echo of Reagan. It was all a polished act of course. All that naturalness and ease, I got the distinct impression, had been very carefully practised and worked on. Still, he talked the kind of language we wanted to hear, that was the important thing: fiscal conservatism; small government; less regulation. Definitely not another Dubya which is the last thing America needs right now – one of those notional conservatives who spends more like a Democrat and forges the usual corporatist alliances with the usual vested interests. The US needs a Tea Party guy, not a RINO.
Is Perry the real deal, though, or a just a plausible imposter? Too many people whose judgement I respect have since told me that there’s something slippery about him. He doesn’t honour promises. He’s another corporate shill. He’s offhand and ungrateful to anyone he thinks is of no use to him. He doesn’t pay his dues. These do not sound to me like signs and portents of the Reagan Mk II America and the world so badly needs.
Fielding audience questions after brief remarks that dwelled largely on fiscal and economic issues, Perry encountered one skeptic who said he was quoting from Perry’s 2010 book, Fed Up!: Our Fight to Save America From Washington, then asked whether misgivings about climate science fueled distrust of federal research in general.
“I do believe that the issue of global warming has been politicized,” Perry answered. “I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects. I think we’re seeing it almost weekly or even daily, scientists who are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change. Yes, our climates change. They’ve been changing ever since the earth was formed.”
Nope: nothing to disagree with there.
And Bachmann? Well, I suppose there are worse crimes than wishing a dead rock star “Happy Birthday.” More than that, I just don’t know enough about her to say, yet – except that if America is going to have its first female president, I’d much rather it were her than one called President Clinton.
I’ve decided I don’t like this blog post much. I agree with all the stuff about Perry but unfortunately I wrote the headline first, then changed my mind when I wrote the piece, but couldn’t change the headline because it was already in the system waiting to go because I accidentally pressed the send button. T0 be honest, I’m still much, much more excited about the possibility that Paul Ryan might still stand. And yes, I’m not ruling out Ron Paul either – though I have serious reservations about his foreign policy positions.
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