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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Pompadour Perry: Courting bomb throwers for a White House run

At one time, traitors and others accused of treasonous actions against the United States of America would be hauled off in chains with a certain date before a firing squad or the gallows.

Today, they’re urged to run for president. Go figure.

Rick Perry, the latest Texas governor intent
on crashing the White House lawn
It is uncanny that people who swear that government is evil are gunning to be in charge of it. First we had the erstwhile U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann deciding to pick up where Sarah Palin dropped off (or fizzled out, depending on your view). Now, the long-awaited candidacy of Texas Gov. Rick Perry appears weeks away, leaving self-proclaimed conservative and tea party activists and political watchers salivating.

It’s intriguing that people who brandish the Constitution in public discourse like a Bible at an exorcism have such a ready embrace for someone who openly has violated said sacred document, if not disqualified himself for a run at the highest office in the land, in spirit if not in completed deed.

What’s that? You missed Perry’s discussion about secession from the Union being a viable option, hearkening Jefferson Davis, nearly begging President Obama to channel his favorite president outright?

Perry’s comments in the spring of 2009 – just a few months into the Obama Administration – fired up those with Davey Crockett dreams and nightmares of a “liberal” black man with his finger on the button.

Lest we forget, the last time someone talked secession, a lot of bodies piled up in places like Gettysburg, Manassas,  Shiloh and some 378 other battlefields across this country and nearly shattered it. Then, like Perry’s rationale now, economics lay at the heart of the conflict, with devastating consequences.

And if you need a refresher, the 14th Amendment – cited more frequently as the president’s potential nuclear option-resolution to the debt ceiling debacle – has clear instructions and disdain for those who would bad-mouth the country and seek higher office: nothing doing. Section 3 is quite clear:

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. 

For those keeping score, secession is definitely a form of insurrection. Or rebellion. Take your pick.

Of course, a chunk of the Constitution-waving tea party set has overlooked that proviso; 1 in 5 said they’d back Perry in a recent Marist poll – and he’s not yet declared. In case some woke up and paid attention to his subtle secessionist flirtation, Perry sought to clean up his “enthusiasm” weeks later.

He has all the trappings of a presidential pol-in-waiting – from the Hollywood hair to the swinging politics, from a Democrat who stumped for Al Gore’s 1988 presidential aspirations to Bible-thumping red-meat spewing GOP good ol’ boy.

Up to his open musings of “different scenarios,” Perry’s job approval numbers hadn’t been too hot – and they’re not rousing now, particularly if parsed along racial lines. But he’s a savvy opportunist.

Of course, he’s far from alone.

Bush’s Brain aka Turd Blossom aka Evil Genius Karl Rove clearly wants to get back into the ring to do battle with President Obama, the Democrat that upended the Republican Party in 2008. And he looks willing to jump on this horse in hopes of riding it back to Pennsylvania Avenue, even if the rest of the Bush camp detests Perry, and the lack of love seems mutual. Political loyalties are built to last, after all – all the way until the next election cycle. And the narrative is that Texas – and by extension Perry – is a success story amid a nation wracked by recession.

Right-to-work Texas has been able to ramp up its economy and produce some winners in recent years, but the losers have been plentiful as well. Since 1980, its rate of poverty has continued to outpace that of the nation – and the ranks of the poor there continue to grow. Its rousing economic output has come under question lately, too. Despite being a nation with a short attention span, shenanigans such as the Tom DeLay-powered redistricting and Enron excesses cannot be forgotten, for they exemplified the worst in American power and greed. Nor can it be forgotten that Perry was in the thick of it. Pure Texan.

His pistol-packing ways leaves some waxing poetic while his fiscal policies has others sputtering curses. His retro culture warrior credentials make some simply shudder. But in an era where Michele Bachmann once was dismissed as plain wacko and now is giving frontrunner Mitt Romney a serious case of heartburn, a Perry candidacy is one to watch – carefully.

Texas has produced a few presidents in the modern era, from Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson to Republican George W. Bush. Neither was seen as a roaring success for the Republic, considering the political and militaristic morasses to which they led a once-willing turned deeply cynical nation.

We’re still suffering those effects, decades later. It’s enough evidence for even fevered minds to realize it’s too soon to willingly give another Lone Star leader keys to the White House – let alone this one.

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