Was anyone really surprised that Rick Perry dropped out of the GOP presidential stakes? Well, I wasn’t, but I can be a bit nostalgic about it.
For good or bad, Texas occupies an out-sized role in American public life. This may be due to its geographical scope—large enough to lie over and cover many other states, or its large population and consequent congressional representation, or maybe still its huge role in Western legend and lore, or more likely, a combination of this and other factors.
Some months back, a relative in the Great North said to Ellen and me, “You have a good governor down there.” We paused, shaken a bit, and I said, “Well, he has really nice hair.”
So with the little hint of my views about Texas Governor Rick Perry, I took special note of a quote in an Austin Sunday paper when we lived there, before we escaped Texas politics to move to Arizona, where it seems less crazy. I’m not the first to find Rick Perry quotes amusing.
Writer Daniel Kurtzman has published “Dumb Quotes and Gaffes by GOP Presidential Candidate Rick Perry.” Here’s one example: “Juarez is reported to be the most dangerous city in America.” –Rick Perry, referring to a city that is across the Texas border in Mexico, February 28, 2011. BuzzFeed posted a collection of what it calls “34 Deliciously Ridiculous Rick Perry Quotes.” One of their examples is, “There’s nothing wrong with America that an extra dose of freedom won’t cure.”
Anyway, the Austin American Statesman, the top-ranking newspaper in Texas over the major papers in Dallas, El Paso, Houston, and San Antonio, quoted Governor Perry on June 22, 2014, in a comment he made recently to Mark Leibovich, a writer for the New York Times Magazine. Mr. Perry was quoted as saying, “I’m more Jewish than you think I am. I read the part of the Bible that said the Jews are God’s chosen people.”
That comment struck me as more than a bit odd, as it may have appeared to the paper’s editors. When I read something about a group of people, does that somehow make me more similar to them? Don’t most religious groups feel in some manner that they are God’s chosen people? Does not the religion-referencing Mr. Perry, an avowed Christian, feel that he’s a member of God’s chosen people? Maybe his remark was just a type of pandering that is common in political candidates.
So Governor Perry has actually decided not to seek the presidency in 2016. If he had not, probably someone would have asked him to explain that comment during the campaign so we can all better understand his thinking.
Now he probably won’t be asked to explain some of his other quotes that are a matter of public record. Like, what’s the third department of the federal government that he would eliminate? Maybe he decided that question is just too difficult to face on national TV.
Or maybe Governor Perry was having trouble concentrating on the race with his lingering indictment on two felony charges alleging abuse of power by a Travis County grand jury. These are in connection with the April 2013 arrest of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg on drunken driving charges. In response, Perry tried to force her from office and vetoed state funds for the Public Integrity Unit run by the District Attorney’s Office.
Of course, opinion is divided on the merits of the case against Perry. Time will tell if he’s the real deal in that case. But for now he’s a Texas hot flash just exited from the national stage.