Back on Jly 25, CBS News posted on their website an article titled The Skeletons in Rick Perry’s Closet.
Now to me, the term skeletons in the closet indicates some deep, dark, well hidden secret…not screaming headlines. What CBS News actually did was to go into the archives of practically every newspaper in Texas for the period of Perry’s tenure in politics and drug out old headlines.
I’ve already pointed some of it out: His Democrat past, support of Al Gore in 1988 and a brewhaha over funding for his 2006 campaign.
Of course there’s more, such as his support of the socially liberal Rudy Giuliani in the 2008 campaign, an immigration flip-flop, and the two things that damn near cost the Governor my (and a lot of other people’s) support: the land grab (by any other name) known as the Trans-Texas Corridor, and his ill-concieved (by his own admission) executive order requiring every schoolgirl in Texas be vaccinated against the human papilloma virus (HPV) starting at age 12. This ticked a lot of parents off, including yours truly who blasted away at him with both barrels, then reloaded and resumed fire.
As to the Trans-Texas Corridor, it was just plain stupid. No matter what they called it, it was a land grab. This was supposed to be a privately-built and maintained toll road (or network of roads) concieved as a NAFTA route for Mexican trucks to connect with the U.S. highway system. It was supposed to make money for Texas, but according to yours truly that was a bunch of bravo sierra. First, as a trucker I despised toll roads and would do anything to stay off of them. Still do. Second, the whole shebang was to be overseen by a foreign consortium. No way were Texans gonna let that happen, and we told him and his partners in this boondoggle that in very strong terms. Like the HPV deal, he saw the writing on the wall and shut it down.
Point here is, as widely as these issues were covered by the state and national media, including CBS News ( if it’s news, it’s news to CBS), and while they may hurt him some, they hardly qualify as skeletons in the closet. They are certainly problem issues and we’ll see how Gov. Perry deals with them moving forward. Use of the term skeletons in the closet is a thinly veiled attempt by CBS to discredit the Governor, who in truth, scares the living crap out of the Obama Campaign. I like that in a candidate.
To Gov. Perry’s credit, he addressed the HPV vaccination issue just days ago saying, “I was ill-informed… I didn’t do enough research on the subject.” It was a bad call and he admitted it. Refreshing, don’t you think? Give him some credit. While I expect a certain amount of stubbornness in a leader, I also expect that leader to change directions when his chosen path is shown to be wrong, and to own up to his mistakes, not try to duck responsibility by blaming somebody else. I’ve never seen Rick Perry duck responsibility. Can’t say the same for the current President.
Throughout his career in politics, Perry has championed fiscal conservatism and tax reform, even as a Democrat. As Governor, he has held the line against creating a state income tax and increasing sales and property taxes.
In 2003, he signed Legislation creating theTexas Enterprise Fund designed to make development of the Texas economy a top priorty. His sales tax cuts attracted new retailers to the state creating jobs.
In 2006, he signed legislation reducing property taxes by some $15.7 billion. Also in 2006, he irritated the hell out of some in his own party by supporting an increase in the state franchise tax as part of a property tax reform bill. Many within the Republican Party condemned Perry’s tax bill, HB-3, calling it a “back door” state income tax. Perry claimed the bill would save the average taxpayer $2,000 in property taxes. Critics contended that Perry inflated the numbers; the actual tax savings, they said, would average only about $1,350 per family. What the hell…I’ll take $1,350, money talks and B.S. walks.
The Governor has had some problems balancing fiscal conservatism, education equity, and the politics of school finance. As lieutenant governor, he sponsored a controversial school vouchers bill as an alternative to the “Robin Hood” plan that was in force at the time. In 2004, Perry attacked the plan as part of the educational system’s problems and attempted to get the legislature to finally scrap the system and replace it with one he believed would encourage greater equity, cost less, not increase property or sales taxes and not discourage job growth by legalizing video lottery terminals at racetracks and on Indian reservations, and higher cigarette taxes. As a smoker, you can guess how I felt about that last bit.
He called two special sessions of the Legislature in 2005: The first, on June 25 saw considerable resistance in the house, even from Republican Speaker Tom Craddick. Perry’s proposal was attacked by Democrats and some Republicans who represented property-poor districts and was rejected. During this session, he butted heads big time with Comptroller Carol Keeton Strayhorn, and it was one helluva fight folks. This led Ms. Strayhorn to run against him as “One Tough Grandma” in that four-way horse race I told you about.
The second session, convened on July 21 after Perry vetoed all public school funding for the 2007-2008 school year saying, “I’m not going to approve an education budget that shortchanges teacher salary increases, textbooks, education technology, and education reforms. And I cannot let $2 billion sit in some bank account when it can go directly to the classroom.” During this session, House Bill 2, the public school reform package, failed 62-79, after 50 amendments were added without discussion or debate. Fifty ammendments, no debate, no discussion. This must be where Nancy Pelosi got that line about passing it to see what was in it. No wonder Perry was spittin’ nails!
In 2006, with his approval sinking like the Titanic, he turned to his one-time lieutenant-governor campaign rival John Sharp – the former Texas State Comptroller, Railroad Commissioner, State Senator and Representative – to lead a task force charged with preparing a bipartisan education plan for the 2006 special legislative session, which convened April 17. Passing up the opportunity to run against Perry in the upcoming gubernatorial race (many have since suggested that he might have won), Sharp accepted Perry’s offer.The task force issued its final plan several months later, with the suggestions contained within the plan accepted by the Legislature and signed into law in the nick of time. Sharp and his team are now credited with modernizing the Texas Tax Code, something that the Legislature was unable to do under Governor Perry’s leadership alone. For his successful efforts, Sharp was later nominated by the Dallas Morning News for the “Texan of the Year” award. Frankly, the man earned it. Kudos to Perry for calling on him. Another thing I like in a leader: knowing when to go laterally, and to whom.
Political differences aside, Sharp and Perry are pretty much of the same mindset: “I’m gonna get this done if I gotta kick your ass to do it.” And both men will most assuredly kick your ass. Obama’s a whiner, Bush was an arm twister, Perry’ll just kick your ass.
On the social conservative front, Gov. Perry signed into law an abortion bill that limits late term abortions and requiring girls under the age of 18 to have parental permission for an abortion. He also got legislation passed requiring women to have a sonogram prior to an abortion. Naturally, pro-abortion types are up in arms. He’s also known for his conservative views on homosexuality, a paradox considering his support for the socially liberal former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in 2008. He blew a head gasket when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas’ sodomy laws.
Perry has backed states’ rights on several occasions, including the ability of states to decide their own policy on the environment and on drugs.
Last month, he riled up the liberals by announcing he would be leading a prayer event called “The Response: A call to prayer for a nation in crisis,” held August 6 at Houston’s Reliant Stadium. Now wouldn’t ya just know it: the loons at Freedom From Religion sued to stop the event. On July 28, U.S. District Judge Gray Miller kicked ’em to the curb telling them they had suffered no injury and lacked legal standing to sue.
Maybe I can wrap this up in Part 4. We’ll take a look at healthcare, the border flipflop issue and jobs.
This guy’s been Governor for 11 years; that’s a lot of ground to cover, and it’s stuff you need to know about a candidate. Especially one that’s polling at the top right now. Stick with me.