Friday, June 3, 2011

The Rick Perry Question

In my column this week, "GOP may have a contender in the wings," I lay out an initial argument for Rick Perry's plausibility as an Omaba-slayer (a knightly reference; no actually violence intended, of course).

  1. active defense of the 10th Amendment in the face of Obamacare’s encroachments
  2. record as a budget-cutter
  3. executive experience is in one of the largest states in the union
  4. won an unprecedented three terms with a strong victory in 2010
  5. Texas is a growing state with a large Hispanic population

My other two arguments are that he is informed by the right books, and he seems large and colorful enough to match Obama's icon-factor.

He also passes the Katie Couric test. He reads. And he reads the right stuff. In a Wall Street Journal interview not long ago, he highlighted Friedrich Hayek’s classic of political and economic liberty, The Road to Serfdom, and The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes, her account of how Franklin D. Roosevelt’s interventionist policies actually deepened and lengthened the Depression. “Amity’s book is very eye-opening—scary—for me,” he said. You can judge a man by what scares him.

Shelby Steele says the problem for any candidate facing Barack Obama is that he or she must run against not only Obama the man, but also Obama the icon. This means that whoever leads the Republican ticket has to be somehow larger than life. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is a good man with good principles, but he’s a man of quite human proportions. Others in the race are all-too-human. At the South Carolina debate, I saw men who were trying hard to convince us that they belong on the stage. Sarah Palin was not there, though she seems made for the stage. But one wonders what kind of stage. Like everything in Texas, Rick Perry seems be a large enough character to fill any stage, even one he would share with a sitting president, perhaps even an iconic sitting president.

One of the commenters listed these arguments again him.

1. Guilt by association with Bush given they share a home state. [Really weak.]

2. Adios, mofo. [Not clear just what this is. A bad language incident is a bar to the presidency?]

3. Why don’t you just let us get on down the road? [This is not exactly Troopergate.]

4. Required Gardasil vaccinations, which on its face should offend the personal liberty crowd, but even moreso when the recommendation was made after heavy lobbying by Merck. [A. Get your kids out of public school. B. Exemptions are easily obtained. C. Otherwise, it does seem like bad judgment. D. Do Merck-y drug company connections explain this? E. What does preventing cervical cancer have to do with public education?]

5. Trans-Texas Corridor. Here Perry was going to seize huge swaths of private land under eminent domain in order to build a super-highway to support additional truck traffic due to NAFTA. [This is a concern to the John Birch Society conspiracy theorists and no one else.]

6. Perry floats the idea of secession. [That's just a Texan being Texan. But I'll keep my eyes on it.]

7. Was a Democrat until 1989. [Lot's of good people share that dark past: Reagan, Gramm (Texan)...]

8. Chaired the campaign to elect Al Gore in Texas in 1988. [Any sign of Algorism since then?]

The fellow who posted these objections is a Texan himself who has been keeping a file. If this is the best he can do, Perry looks fit for the stage.


GTT said...

Another point in Perry's favor: he is extremely good at explaining why Texas's business-friendly approach of low taxes, low government spending, and reasonable regulations has led Texas to be the state with the healthiest economy in the U.S.
Job creation is what the U.S. needs most right now, and Perry and Texas have proved we know how to do it.

David C. Innes said...

Well said, GTT. On that subject, consider Michael Barone's column, "What Texas Can Teach Us" (May 26, 2011).

If you want to see a place where the private sector in America has been booming and generating jobs, you should look at Texas. That’s my take from these absolutely fascinating numbers compiled from Bureau of Labor Statistics figures by The Business Journals, tracking the increase or decrease in private sector jobs in the ten years between April 2001 and April 2011. Any precise ten-year period is somewhat arbitrary, of course, since the two endpoints can fall at different points in the business cycle, and so picking different starting and end points will produce different pictures. But the numbers here look pretty unambiguous.

In those 10 years, Texas gained 732,800 private sector jobs, far ahead of the number two and three states, Arizona (90,200) and Nevada (90,000). The nation overall lost more than 2 million private sector jobs, with the biggest losses coming in California (623,700), Michigan (619,200) and Ohio (460,900).

Texas’s gain was also impressive as a percentage of jobs at the beginning of the period. Texas had job growth of 9%, more than any other state except much smaller North Dakota (19%), Alaska (17%), Wyoming (16%), Montana (12%) and Utah (10%). The biggest losers in percentage terms, by far, were Michigan (16%) and Ohio (10%).

Obviously Michigan and Ohio were hurt by the parlous condition of the Detroit-based auto firms and other manufacturers; North Dakota, Alaska, Wyoming and Montana were helped by local oil, gas and coal booms. Texas and California are both too big to be explained by just local factors.

The lesson of the previous decade seems clear: if you take a previously prosperous and creative state and subject it to high taxes and intrusive regulations, it loses 5% of its private sector jobs; if you take a previously somewhat less prosperous and creative state and govern it with low taxes and light regulation, it gains 9% more jobs, even as the nation’s economy is suffering.

I’ve explored previously this contrast between our two largest states. Here’s another set of numbers about our second and third largest states that tells a story about what has happened over a longer period of time. In 1970 New York had 18 million people. In 2010 New York had 19 million people. In 1970 Texas had 11 million people. In 2010 Texas had 25 million people.

Don’t tell me public policy doesn’t account for much of the difference.

Read more at the Washington Examiner: