Eleven days ago, at the RedState Gathering in Charleston, South Carolina, Texas Governor Rick Perry officially announced that he will be a candidate for President in 2012. It was indisputably the most energizing speech of its kind I have heard in 23 years of paying attention to politics. I commented on Twitter a few days later that for me, the race has just now gotten
fun. It had kind of muddled along up to that point, but Rick Perry injected a major adrenaline boost into this contest.
We had been hearing rumors that Perry would jump into the race for a couple of months before he finally made it official. I arrived at a personal point of support for Rick Perry in the 3-4 week run-up to August 13. My enthusiasm for Perry’s candidacy centers around four major factors.
Rick Perry has served as a successful Governor of one of the nation’s largest states for 10 years. The last Presidential race was a choice between two less than desirable options, to say the least. Americans were forced to choose between a community-organizer-turned-politician with a glitzy campaign and a career Senator with some conservative perspectives, mixed with a heavy dose of quasi-progressivism (think McCain/Feingold and cap and trade, for starters).
Of course, that contest itself was small potatoes in comparison to the disaster that the winner of that race has visited upon this country. Barack Obama’s lack of governance credibility has been displayed for a watching world to view over the last 2 ½ years. Obama never looked more like a bystander than he did in the recent debt ceiling fight. While representatives of the two parties tussled, Obama dithered and gawked on the sidelines like a wide-eyed teenager, occasionally interrupting with a sullenly sarcastic rejoinder, but never a genuinely constructive suggestion.
We cannot take the risk again of turning the Presidency over to anyone with no record of executive experience. For that reason, all things being equal, I can’t see myself ever voting again for someone who is a career DC politician when there is an alternative on the ballot who has either governed a state or led a business that was responsible for creating wealth.
Under Rick Perry’s leadership, Texas has flourished, especially in comparison to the rest of the country. Texas has not been exempt from economic difficulty in recent years. The unemployment rate there has risen, just as it has in every other state in the Union. Yet according to Bill Peacock of the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Center for Economic Freedom, on Rick Perry’s watch, Texas has seen a net growth of 1.2 million new jobs.
However, even more astonishing, quoting Peacock once again, “since June 2009…Texas has added 265,300 net jobs, accounting for 45 percent of net U.S. job creation.” (Emphasis mine) In other words, in the heat of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, Texas has managed to generate close to half of the nation’s new employment activity.
Rick Perry is an unabashed conservative and always has been. I read George W. Bush advisor Karen Hughes’ memoir Ten Minutes from Normal about 8 years ago. Nearly a decade on, I still recall one of her postulates as she discussed
the decision for whom to vote in any given election, “Perfect is not on the ballot.” This is a perennially true axiom and it applies equally for 2012.
Newsflash: Ronald Reagan was not a perfect conservative. Nor have I always been. For that matter, neither have you. The same truth applies to Rick Perry, who is a human being like all of us. Has he deviated at times from the path some of us would rather he walk? Yes. But it is more important to me that a leader admit error and institute a course correction than tout perfectionist aims that cannot be achieved.
Rick Perry has not only proved capable of this; he has also proved to be an instinctive conservative who understands the power of limited government. Furthermore, his promise to “work every day to make Washington, DC as inconsequential to your lives as I can” is as sound a reverberation of conservatism as we have heard encapsulated in one sentence in decades.
Rick Perry is a solid social conservative. He grasps the economic incentives that low taxes and an easing of regulation provides. He will do what must be done to strengthen America’s national defense. In addition, he understands that our debt is crippling our ability to function and, indeed, threatening our very survival. Whether you cheered or cringed, Perry’s
characterization of a potential QE3 (quantitative easing yet again by Bernanke’s Federal Reserve) as “almost treasonous” amply exemplifies the truth of the last sentence.
Rick Perry can take the fight to Barack Obama and I believe he will beat him. The bloom is definitely off the proverbial rose in 2012 for President Obama, but the powers of incumbency in our system of government are immense. You need only read Craig Shirley’s book on the 1980 election for a reminder of how close the polling was between Reagan and Carter for the bulk of that year.
Ronald Reagan won that year because he was willing to tell the truth about the economic havoc wreaked by a Democrat President who sported a wide grin and harbored a nasty streak. Reagan carried the day with applause lines like the following, “A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose yours. And a recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses HIS.”
The following from Reagan’s 1980 Republican National Convention speech could as easily be uttered in Tampa in 2012, replacing “Carter” with “Obama”:
“Our problems are both acute and chronic, yet all we hear from those in positions of leadership are the same tired proposals for more government tinkering, more meddling and more control — all of which led us to this state in the first place.
“Can anyone look at the record of this administration and say, ‘Well done?’ Can anyone compare the state of our economy when the Carter Administration took office with where we are today and say, ‘Keep up the good work?’ Can anyone look at our reduced standing in the world today and say, ‘Let’s have four more years of this?'”
It is not a stretch to imagine Rick Perry saying exactly that! I had heard Rick Perry speak and been aware of him for a decade. But my ears perked up when I heard him utter these words at the American Conservative Conference in New Orleans:
“We need to stop apologizing about stemming the tide of entitlement mind-set that’s out there…Our party cannot be all things to all people. It can’t be. And our loudest opponents on the left are never gonna like us so let’s quit trying to curry
favor with ‘em!”
The time for kid glove treatment of an immature, petulant, economically clueless President is long past. The nation is in dire straits and it is time to be forthright about who bears the lion’s share of the blame for its ruin: the current occupant of the White House, Barack Obama. We need a candidate who is unafraid to expose the media charade that catapulted Barack Obama into power.
The right candidate for 2012 will combine a revealing portrait of where the past has taken us with a vision of what can be again if freedom is restored and the shackles are removed from the American economy. It will take a daily, disciplined, undaunted effort, but Rick Perry is up to the challenge. He is a proven leader. And he can win. I am proud to support him.