Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
August 22, 2011
POLITICS: Rick Perry For President, Y'All

Last weekend, Republicans waiting for the proverbial man on the white horse to ride in and save them from an unsatisfactory 2012 primary field got their answer, or at any rate the best answer they are likely to get: Texas Governor Rick Perry. And while Perry entered stage right, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, my previous choice among the announced candidates in the field, exited stage center-right, leaving the choice - to me - an obvious one: Rick Perry for President, y'all.

The Governor From Central Casting

Perry is in many ways a blindingly obvious choice to fill a gap in the presidential field. He's the longest-serving Governor in the history of the nation's second-largest state, a state with a long and disputatious foreign border; his predecessor in the job served two terms as President. He's won statewide election six times, a record matched only by one previous President (Bill Clinton, whose terms were shorter), and has held statewide office continuously for two decades, since Barack Obama was in law school. He's defeated liberal icon Jim Hightower, survived the Democratic wave of 2006, and beaten African-American, Latino and female opponents (showing his ability to survive Obama-style identity politics), the last a primary challenge by a sitting Senator, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, who had Establishment backing as prominent as Dick Cheney. He's never lost an election since winning his seat in the Texas Legislature in 1984. He served overseas in the Air Force, flying C-130 transports for five years during the Cold War in the mid-70s in places like Germany and Saudi Arabia, joining just as the Vietnam War was winding down (he'd been in an ROTC-style organization at Texas A&M). Like Mitt Romney, he has great hair and looks like a guy Hollywood would cast as a president - which may seem like an awfully silly way to pick a President, but one of Pawlenty's problems seemed to be a lack of perceived gravitas arising from his decidedly nerdy appearance. Perry has no such problems.

In a red-blue nation, Perry has been a protean political figure, making a journey from Establishment Southern Democrat (in 1988 he was statewide chair for the Al Gore for President campaign) to Establishment Republican (in 1998 he was George W. Bush's running mate, and he originally took office when Bush resigned after winning the 2000 election) to Tea Party-backed iconoclast (in 2010, as noted, he faced a moderate Establishment rebellion, and survived by cementing his popularity with Texas Tea Partiers and other conservative grassroots). But Perry has changed his politics more than his policies over the years (even as a Democrat he was distinguished as a foe of government spending); while he has any politician's vulnerability to charges of flip-flopping, pandering and beliefs of convenience at times, he has nothing like Mitt Romney's vast catalogue of flip-flops in a career in public office barely a fifth as long.

Perry's strong economic record as Texas Governor, swimming against the national tide, is his strongest selling point (and as such has attracted the most immediate and incoherent assaults). He may have gotten a D in economics in college, when he was still a Democrat, but his much more relevant grade came in 2009, when his state's bond rating was upgraded to AA+ by Standard & Poor's on the basis of his 2010-11 budget.

The Real Thing

Perry's record is solidly but far from perfectly conservative; honestly, there's not that much difference between him and Pawlenty that's not explained by the difference between Texas and Minnesota. He's not the Platonic ideal Republican candidate. He's not a brilliant policy innovator like Bobby Jindal, a budget wonk extraordinaire like Paul Ryan, or an exemplar of Tea Party purity like Michele Bachmann. He hasn't faced down a hostile polity like Chris Christie or Scott Walker, or led a faction within the party like Jim DeMint or Pat Toomey. He lacks Marco Rubio's spellbinding eloquence, Sarah Palin's biting wit or Allen West's martial ferocity. He hasn't been a successful businessman like Romney or Herman Cain, or a decorated combat veteran like West or John McCain. He's a career politician. And as a 61 year old white male Texas Baby Boomer who has been in office for a quarter century and who sometimes sounds like George W. Bush, he's not in any way a "new face" for the party.

But the Republican Party right now has plenty of enthusiasm and plenty of ideas. What it has been looking for is a leader with credibility in governance, and that's Perry. With over a decade in office in a huge, Republican-dominated state, Perry isn't selling castles in the air, he's selling an alternative vision of how government should operate, implemented and road-tested through good times and bad. From the new security demands of 9/11, to a decade of balancing budgets with ebbing and flowing tax revenues, to creating jobs through two recessions, to immigration from neighboring Mexico, to crises ranging from Hurricanes Rita and Ike to eruptions of Islamic extremism at Fort Hood to every variety of social ill and social-issue controversy, Perry has had to grapple with the full menu of practical challenges that come with governing responsibility. Many a buck has stopped at his desk. His answers may not always have been ideal, but the voters will be able to judge him, for good and ill, on a long and proven record.

On my 2008 checklist of five types of experience we look for in presidential candidates, Perry scores strongly on two (executive experience and political leadership experience) by virtue of his long tenure as Texas Governor and the state party's consistent success under his guidance. He's not a combat veteran, but has worn his country's uniform abroad. On foreign affairs, he's somewhat typical of a long-serving border-state governor - he's well-traveled and well-versed in immigration and trade issues (probably nobody in America has more practical experience dealing with immigration and the Mexican border), but still has much to prove on national security. He can also boast some private sector business experience from his time as a rancher before running for office - hardly a vast enterprise, but one that teaches a good deal from the ground level up about how to make ends meet. As I've noted before, no one factor is essential - although executive experience is by far the most important - and only two presidents (George Washington and George H.W. Bush) entered office with a strong resume in all five categories. So, Perry comes out looking pretty good on that test.

After 2 1/2 years of a President who entered the White House as a wish-projection object with no track record running anything, America deserves a leader who already knows how to lead and has gotten his rookie mistakes out of his system.

Holding Out For A Hero

Every successful presidential campaign requires a little touch of hero-worship and personality cult, although again the Obama experience demonstrates the dangers of overdosing on this sort of thing. Perry, as a poster boy for gun-toting Texans (he once shot a coyote while jogging), has inspired a bit of that. If you've seen the burgeoning "Rick Perry Facts" meme on the web (@rickperryfacts on Twitter, for example), after the mold of the Chuck Norris Facts, they're a good example of pumping up Perry's Texas tough guy image with the proper air of absurdity to avoid taking themselves too seriously. Nobody is going to depict Perry as a "Lightworker" who brings meaning to our lives, paint pictures of him astride a unicorn, or argue that he will fundamentally change the American people or hold back the tides. He's simply a successful political leader who wants to apply his talents to improving how our federal government works, in many cases by imitating things that have already been done on the federal or state level in the past.

We all have our biases in preferring candidates. I know three of mine. One, which Perry fits just as have Pawlenty, Palin, Ryan, Rubio, Giuliani, Christie, and even Ronald Reagan, is a preference for Republicans who didn't grow up wealthy or from prominent families, who have had to scrap their way up the ladder. I've voted for my share of to-the-manor-born Republicans and surely will again, but I still feel like Republicans who have had to claw their way up from middle-class or harder backgrounds tend to understand better at a gut level what the party really stands for, how hard it has to work to win, and why it appeals to Americans who don't come from money and influence. But Perry doesn't exactly fit the second (I tend to like candidates who are, like me, either lawyers or otherwise talkers, fast on their feet and clever in debate) and as for the third...so sue me, I'm a New Yorker, I prefer not to run Southerners, who tend to get counted out easily by much of the rest of the country. But it's important to know your biases precisely so you don't let them dictate your choices. I'd rather have run a candidate from another region of the country, but if Perry's the best we have - and I think of the current field he is, and that whatever rumors you hear, we're unlikely to get another top-shelf entrant - he's my candidate. He doesn't need to be my hero.

I'm the Map, I'm the Map, I'm the Map

Here is where the entry of Perry gets interesting and a little dicey. One of the primary reasons why I'd been open to possibly continuing to support Pawlenty even if he and Perry were both in the field is the 2012 map. As I have written before, the demographics of the true swing states in 2012 are likely to determine the two sides' battle plans.

Let me offer my current seat-of-the-pants analysis of what that map will look like. This is based in good part on history and educated speculation; it's too early to have meaningful hard data and dangerous to project too much certainty on current polling.

Realistically, given Obama's current weaknesses and the traditional GOP loyalties of those states, I expect that Ohio, Florida and Indiana will end up in the GOP column so long as the Republican candidate is competitive - in other words, I can't foresee the situation where Republicans lose the election because of a failure to win one of those states. Meanwhile, so long as the bottom doesn't drop out on him, Obama's likely to hold on in Minnesota, but Republicans will have opportunities in other states of the Midwest and Upper Midwest that have tended to run Democratic in the past two decades. I also think the demographics make it at least an open question whether the GOP can reclaim Virginia and North Carolina, although (1) Democrats mostly got drubbed there in 2009-2010 (besides the NC-GOV race) and (2) Obama only won NC by a hair in 2008 anyway, with less than 50% of the vote, so his margin of error there is almost nonexistent. In general, polling has tended to show that Obama is more popular than you'd expect from national numbers and the local partisan climate in federal worker-heavy Virginia, less popular than you'd expect in bitter, clinging Pennsylvania.

This is what my current map looks like:

2012 Map as of 8/22/11

You will notice that this puts the GOP 32 electoral votes short of the goal line, with the remaining votes up for graps divided into the following buckets:

The Midwest: 52 votes, 16 of them in the white-bread Upper Midwest states of Wisconsin and Iowa, 36 in the more traditional Rust Belt states of Pennsylvania and Michigan. These were states where the Democrats got slaughtered in 2010, with the GOP winning governorships in all four (as well as Senate races in PA & WI). New Hampshire's 4 electoral votes are likely to trend in a similar direction as these four states, bringing the swing total to 56. If Ohio, Indiana and Minnesota come onto the table, that expands this region by another 39 votes. The Midwest is huge.

The Tidewater: VA & NC were both red states under Bush, but an influx of northerners to NC's Research Triangle and to the federal worker and contractor dominated Northern Virginia region, combined with heavy African-American turnout, swung both states for Obama in 2008. (If you prefer, we can call these two the Big Ten and the ACC). VA & NC carry 28 electoral votes; adding them on this map leaves the Republican candidate just one state from victory.

The High Desert: CO & NV were mostly reliable red states that have been pulled left by demographic changes (growing Latino populations, influxes of Californians), heavy union organization in NV, and a pair of especially ineptly run state Republican organizations. NM is a more traditionally Democratic state, but was won by Bush in 2004 and went Republican in the 2010 Governor's race (both NV & NM elected Hispanic Republican governors in 2010). I've tended to assume Obama wins all three, but they will be close-run races, with a total prize of 20 electoral votes.

The predominance of the Midwest would seem to argue for a candidate more suited to that region than a guy like Perry who embodies Texas swagger. That's where Pawlenty could have come in handy, with his careful balance of blue-collar scrappiness and "Minnesota nice" and record of lasting two statewide terms in blue Minnesota without emerging hopelessly compromised. But in retrospect, the defining moment of Pawlenty's campaign ended up coming when he blasted Mitt Romney's health care record as "Obamaneycare" on a Sunday talk show, but refused to repeat the line in Romney's presence in a June debate in New Hampshire. Pawlenty ended up with the worst of both worlds, looking less like a scrapper than like a rabbit-puncher who wasn't willing to slug with the big boys. Pawlenty ended up bowing out with class as soon as his path to victory was closed off after the Ames Straw Poll.

But if Perry is perhaps not the best fit for the Midwest, one advantage of Perry being a Texan is that, as Richard Cohen sagely notes, Texas is culturally, geographically and politically part of both the South and the West. As a result, Perry is in some sense campaigning on home turf as far east as Florida and Virginia and as far west as Arizona and Idaho. He'll look and sound very much like the kind of Republican candidate who wins elections in Virginia and North Carolina. And a corollary is that Texas' unique historic and demographic ties to Mexico means that a successful long-time Texas politician like Perry is much more at home campaigning for Latino support than a candidate from the Upper Midwest would be, giving him a better chance of running strongly in the three High Desert states.

Buckle Your Seatbelts

Barack Obama, like Harry Reid in 2010 and Gray Davis in 2002, is likely to enter the 2012 election needing to make the race about something other than his own unpopular and unsuccessful record in office; indeed, that was one major reason why I'd been attracted to the relatively bland Pawlenty. Perry lacks obvious weak points - he can't be painted as a guy who doesn't know what he's doing, and he can't be caricatured as a Bill Simon-type corporate predator or a Sharron Angle-type batty extremist. Even some of his more eccentric-sounding ideas, like his criticism of the Sixteenth Amendment, are grounded in his experience balancing budgets and presiding over economic growth in a state with no income tax.

The fact of Perry's Texas-ness and Obama's own needs make the primary attacks on him wholly predictable. The demographics of the swing states and Obama's 2008 coalition only amplify his side's natural inclination to run a racially divisive campaign. Obama's poll numbers, plunging along with the economy, will exacerbate this tendency. An incident last week perfectly captures this dynamic. Perry referred on the campaign trail to the national debt as a "big black cloud that hangs over America," and MSNBC pounced, editing out the reference to the debt and asserting that Perry was referring to Obama as a "big black cloud". Ed Schultz was forced to do a retraction - even Jon Stewart defended Perry on this one - but attacks of this nature never truly go away even after the inevitable insincere apology. Expect more "big black cloud"-style nonsense for the next 15 months.

One of the pet sound bites of Perry's less literate critics has been the notion that he's some kind of secessionist, an urban myth that comes from how he tried to talk down some heated chatter in 2010:

What actually happened was that after people shouted "Secede!" at an Austin rally, he said that he understood their frustration but added, "We've got a great union. There is absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, who knows what may come of that. Texas is a very unique place, and we're a pretty independent lot to boot."

Perry emphasized that he was not advocating secession, but understands why Americans may have those feelings because of frustration. He said it's fine to express the thought. He offered no apology and did not back away from his earlier comments. Perry's remarks were in response to a question from The Associated Press as he walked away from the rally.

This is, of course, a textbook example of how to respond to people with extreme-sounding ideas without agreeing with them. But just as important, it's not, as some left-wingers would have it, a species of neo-Confederacy. "Secession" may have an automatic association with the Stars and Bars to people in, say, Ohio or South Carolina, but in Texas it's part of a much longer-standing tradition of Texas nationalism. Recall that Texas is one of just two states to have once been an independent nation (the other, Hawaii, has not only a lingering nationalism of its own but an active movement to enshrine in law a rule of racial superiority for its native people), and became independent by seceding from Mexico - to Texans, independence and secession are first and foremost associated with the Alamo, not Fort Sumter. But don't expect that history to be understood by people who automatically salivated at the sound of "big black raincloud."

Another brand of really disqualifying-sounding attacks has been the decade-old whispering campaign (I swear I saw it on left-wing blogs as far back as 2002) to paint Perry as gay, a womanizer, or maybe even a gay womanizer (what can't he do?). But similar campaigns have failed to damage Obama (remember Vera Baker?), George H.W. Bush, or even guys with more checkered marital records like John Kerry and John McCain. Americans are usually pretty good about knowing when to write off critics who don't have the goods on this kind of story. You never know with a guy until he's been road-tested at the national level, but ... well, the guy who keeps trying to push these stories to us at RedState has a long history of touting claims that Hillary Clinton is a lesbian who had an affair with Webb Hubbell. I've seen nothing to take the mud slung at Perry out of that category.

There's other critiques of Perry, of course (there's an excellent summary here), but that's to be expected with anybody who's been in public office for that long. On ethics, for example, Perry's records is wholly unremarkable. He hasn't made a career as a reform-minded crusader like McCain or Palin, or pretended to, like Obama. Inevitably, he's open to charges that his state government has sometimes favored his political and financial supporters. This is common to basically all successful politicians, and it's entirely proper that they be kept in some fear of public criticism on the subject. But as all conservatives know, the only way to limit public corruption is to limit the role of government, especially in the economy - that's why the Democrats will always have a larger systemic problem with corruption. Perry's Texas experience, the polar opposite of Obama's grounding in the all-encompassing Chicago machine, helps him understand this. We'll hear more about the Texas Governorship being comparatively "weak," and the legislature is even weaker...but that's a good thing, as Perry pointed out in 2007:

The Texas Legislature meets 140 days every other year.

Would Texans consider having a full-time legislature like Pennsylvania's 253-member General Assembly, which serves 12 million people, and where lawmakers are paid $73,000 a year, drive state-paid cars and collect generous pensions?

Forget about it, Perry says.

"There are people who always think, 'Let's have a full-time legislature.' I happen to think that's just asking for trouble. When you have a full-time legislature, they just feel pretty inclined to be doing something. So they are going to dream up new laws, new regulations and new statutes -- and generally all of those cost money," Perry said.

Perry will take his knocks. Put not your faith in princes - he's no messiah, he's a politician. But he's a good one for these times.

Conclusion

I haven't walked through Perry's record in detail here, nor explained in full my reasons for discounting his opponents; there will be ample time for all that as the campaign unfolds. But I hope you'll agree with me that Perry is precisely the kind of proven, experienced, responsible conservative leader that the GOP should be running in 2012, and take the time yourself to give his record (warts and all) a closer look.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:48 AM | Politics 2012 | Comments (34) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

Also the Republic of Vermont 1777–1791.

Posted by: Joshua Mercer at August 22, 2011 12:41 PM

Doesn't matter.
The economy isn't coming back until we prosecute the financial fraud.
And when neither happens, guillotines! (Hooray!)

Posted by: Berto at August 22, 2011 1:08 PM

As much as I hate to agree with Berto, I do this time. The people are not goint to believe until there are consequences. In the mean time, I think Perry is trying to much to be Huckabee and as long as he keeps that up it is going to turn people off.

Posted by: maddirishman at August 22, 2011 5:27 PM

Wow, you're for Perry. Even though he presides over a state that has the highest rate of uninsured people working for minimum wage with no high school diploma he is a massive upgrade over...

Rick Santorum: Single issue gay basher, totally unelectable.
Michelle Bachman: Off kilter, gaffe-prone married to a federal funded gay-gay-basher, totally unelectable.
Sarah Palin: Not really running except to raise money for herself. Way too polarizing, completely unelectable.
Ron Paul: makes too much sense to be a viable GOP candidate so has no chance of receiving the nomination.
Herman Cain: Suuuuuure.
Mitt Romney: Mormon, businessman who made millions by putting Americans out of work and enacted healthcare legislation in MA and the tea partiers hate him. Most electable but not likely to survive nomination process.

Perry drives the middle of the road of the current GOP quite well. He has the outrageous stands the hardcore love and has a book filled with raw meat for them to chomp at and he has the big check writers at ease with his down-homey views. Word is the Obama-ites are happy to take him on which means they probably know stuff about him that isn't super well known beyond his laughable actual record. While they are surely an arrogant bunch and Obama is clearly vunerable on many the front I am eager to see Perry do his thing in the national spotlight as opposed to the lower key aspect that is Texas. What y'all should ask yourself is if Perry is a candidate that you want or just better than all the ones that the vast majority of people don't want. Perhaps Perry is the man for the GOP as currently constructed but he is still a mostly untested asset.

Posted by: jim at August 23, 2011 1:19 AM

I think he's the new flavor of the month. I also think that sooner or later the Republican party is going to have to wake up and stop trying to prove how extreme it is...it makes you more a lapdog trying to curry favor with the loud few.

I think it's sad that Huntsman is considered out because he served as Obama's ambassador to China and that he speaks two Chinese dialects. Think about this: A candidate is considered on the outs because he has a world view, is multi-lingual, in the language of our CHIEF rival and competitor, is educated and served when the President of the United States asked him to. And this is what disqualifies someone? Maybe in the short term it helps you win a few offices and lots of headlines, but in the long run, it can't be a good thing. This is not a Huntsman endorsement (I don't know enough about him), but an observation that parties that seem to trade on noise and low education flash bright and loud and then die out. And don't trade on the "Well Perry's a governor so he knows how to govern..." No he doesn't. Do you say that about Mario Cuomo? Would you about George Wallace?

The long term damage to the Republican party over the last ten years will be deep.

Posted by: Daryl at August 23, 2011 10:18 AM

jim - Minimum wage jobs still beat being unemployed. You can't get promoted from unemployed, and it doesn't look great on a resume.

I put little enough stock in liberals thinking Romney's more electable. Carter thought Reagan was his easiest opponent. Perry's won nine elections in his career, Romney's only won one, and that with less than 50% of the vote. Romney would have all kinds of troubles with the base, while Perry has none.

As for Huntsman...first of all, the election is primarily about Obama's domestic agenda, so it's hard to run against that if you left the field to go work for him during the height of the battles over that agenda. Second, Huntsman and John Weaver have repeatedly gone out of their way to sneer at the party's own voters, which is not traditionally the way to win elections, especially primaries. It was the hiring of Weaver that disqualified him in my eyes. Huntsman's only role in the race is to cater to the prejudices of people who hate Republicans.

Cuomo and Wallace had multiple problems, but lack of experience were not among them.

I find it astounding how incurious people are about Perry's record, which is long and stable.

Posted by: Crank at August 23, 2011 10:36 AM

A candidate is considered on the outs because he has a world view, is multi-lingual,...

We hate him for the same reason you idiots love him: He likes busting on conservatives. Let him make those bones in your hopeless party. You're welcome to him and he'd be a sight better than Toonces. But then, so would the original Toonces.

Posted by: spongeworthy at August 23, 2011 11:03 AM

I don't know anybody who thinks Huntsman speaking Chinese is a bad thing, or that experience as an ambassador or trade rep is, by itself (aside from the context of who he chose to work for and when), a negative. Republican voters have always liked foreign policy/national security experience, all other things being equal.

Posted by: Crank at August 23, 2011 11:14 AM

Crank, there were a lot of comments from "the base" about Huntsman. I don't know lots about him, but find someone's education to be something to be proud of. Perry's is not. In fact, W's spanish was supposedly pretty good. To me something you don't hide, not something you do.

Posted by: Daryl at August 23, 2011 12:00 PM

I agree that many people have ripped Huntsman. But for being fluent in Chinese?

Education? Huntsman has a college degree. That's not really all that unusual.

Posted by: Crank at August 23, 2011 12:04 PM

A college degree is all that unusual if you hail from Rick Perry's Texas where dead-end, minimum wage jobs rule the roost.

Posted by: jim at August 23, 2011 12:35 PM

One more thing about Perry (and I will leave his religion and his ignoring of the First Amendment --he loves ignoring the Constitution anyway) that I think makes him non-Presidential material. That was the execution of the Mexican national. Now I'm not laying a value judgment on the life or death of a dirtbag. And I'm not against the death penalty. Maybe Perry enforces it too much, but look, Texas is a bit different to start with, and I have to understand cultural differences. Even if I disagree with them.

But you can't believe he just had a vision last week and said, "Glory. I'm a runnin' for President." Well, then again, knowing him, maybe he had (my culture calls them schizophrenia, but anyway...). Meaning he had to understand that when various treaty protocols aren't followed, it's BAD. Not that the creep is dead, he deserved it, but you can't let that kind of thing go through. Not when, as President, you have to deal with issues like those dumbass hikers now convicted in Iran (think of it as evolution in action, if they were really just hikers, and I like to think our spies aren't that stupid). Sometimes you have to be a statesman, not a bloodthirsty Texan. He could have taken the high road with, let's face it, a large upside, and little downside. But no, he played it Texas dirty then too. Rule of law and treaties Crank. Rule of law and treaties.

Posted by: Daryl at August 23, 2011 1:40 PM

With his usual acumen, Crank gets right to the heart of the matter: "The demographics of the swing states and Obama's 2008 coalition only amplify his side's natural inclination to run a racially divisive campaign."

Kudos Crank for boldly calling out the Dems for their despicable Willie Horton ad in the 1996 presidential campaign, their outrageous quota ad in the Helms reelection campaign, and similar offensive tactics.

Thr right always plays by the rules and never engages in unfair or misleading political campaigns.

After spongeworthy et. al, come down from their orgasms of delight, the real world awaits. Rick Perry is a no-nothing just waiting to self- imolate. Too bad it is so early.

Posted by: Magrooder at August 23, 2011 5:06 PM

Decades-old, discredited left-wing talking points never die, they just get adopted by Magrooder. I'll just point and laugh at the idea that Bob Dole made an issue of Willie Horton against a ticket that included the guy who actually first surfaced the Horton issue.

Here's a few of this week's examples (last seven paragraphs), following on the "big black cloud" nonsense.

Posted by: Crank at August 23, 2011 5:17 PM

For the record, Governor Perry didn't join an "ROTC-like organization" while at Texas A&M - the university WAS the ROTC-like organization; all students were required to be in the Corps of Cadets at that time, and women were not admitted into the University until the early 70's.

It's about 50/50 now, with only a handful of students in the Corps, but the tradition is still there.

Posted by: Teresa in Fort Worth at August 23, 2011 6:52 PM

When you talk about Texas having the highest number of people making minimum wage and at the poverty level, you have to consider some things peculiar to Texas which skews these statistics.

For one thing, Texas has more than twice the Hispanic population as the average state. In addition, Texas has a very high population of people under the age of 18. Both of these groups tend to earn minimum wage. This also results in skewing the state's per capita income to the poverty level.

Next, Texas unemployment rate skews higher than it should for the very reason the USA's unemployment rate skews lower than it should.

When calculating unemployment, they include those actively looking for work and exclude those who have given up. Because Texas is such an attractive place to live and work, their unemployment skews higher simply because there are more people actively looking for work; while the USA's unemployment rate skews lower because so many have given up. On an apples to apples basis, the unemployment rate in Texas would be mid-6's while the USA would be mid-11's.

Yeah, Perry will be the next POTUS - bank on it. He has the two things Americans love the most - he is likable and he is tough.

Posted by: Bill Mitchell at August 23, 2011 7:01 PM

Please no more comments about TX and min wage dead ends. You couldn't sound more foolish. TX is kicking the ads of the rest of the miserable union because business can count on balanced budgets and a general lack of class based politics. I just drove from Austin through the lower panhandle and into NM. Yes there is a terrible drought and yes there are signs welcoming people to attend weekly rain prayers.

Texas is about all that's left of the once proud nation.

Posted by: steve at August 23, 2011 7:31 PM

The GOP has only run two federalists in the last 100 years: Goldwater (libertarian) and Reagan (non-libertarian). Perry, like Reagan, is a non-libertarian federalist. In fact, Perry is the only one in the current field of major candidates.

The left seems to not comprehend the significance of this ideology. The Obama camp wants to run against Perry mainly based on "style" issues (aka, he has a Texas accent and therefore is both racist and dumber than George Bush). But the fact is that Perry's ideology - just like Reagan - will allow him to unite the social conservative and fiscal conservative wings of the Republican party. No other Republican candidate has been able to do that aside from Reagan (Goldwater lost a lot of social cons - as would Ron Paul). It remains to be seen whether Perry can bring in the third wing (national security), but Perry will ultimately be acceptable to the majority of Republican voters, in a way that neither of the Bushes nor McCain could dream of.

Posted by: wooga at August 23, 2011 7:35 PM

The guy before me is correct. Hispanics DO NOT value education. This of course means they prefer marrying as teens and making families. Is that Perry's fault? Yeah right.

Please keep lying about TX. We don't need any more yankee and calif/nevada fools migrating here.!

Posted by: steve at August 23, 2011 7:38 PM

Steve, please to be keeping Texas in Texas. Perry must be an awesome governor. Y'all should endeavor to keep him as such. If your intent on putting this in the bank I would love to bet you on it.

Posted by: jim at August 23, 2011 7:57 PM

I understand with you being a lawyer that you might wish to avoid discussion of another reason for Perry's popularity in Texas, the crucial third leg of the Texas "Business Friendly Program," tort reform. Low taxes, limited regulation and limits on litigation have been the foundation of Texas' economic success. A study by The Perryman Group in Waco found that tort reform resulted in more than a $100 Billion annual contribution to the state's economy.

You also failed to mention another strong asset of Perry's, his lovely wife, Anita, who, with all her years of experience as First Lady of Texas, will return dignity to the post of FLOTUS.

Posted by: Russ Vaughn at August 23, 2011 8:24 PM

I have to respond to Jim's comments. If I hear one more falsehood about Texas and minimum wage jobs, I'll scream.
1. On average, Texas has a larger group of young workers compared to other states. Younger workers have lower wages, and tend to start out at around minimum wage. Compare apples to apples and you'll find that workers in other states at comparable ages earn similar wages.
2. On average, Texas has a larger group of immigrant workers compared to other states. Immigrant workers have lower wages, and tend to start out at around minimum wage. Compare apples to apples and...
3. As other posters have pointed out - no jobs or jobs at minimum wage in which a worker may advance over time to a higher paying position? Hmmm...that's a tough one to answer.
4. However, the kicker is this: http://www.bizjournals.com/austin/news/2011/07/28/texas-leads-nation-in-professional.html
I have yet to see anyone mention that the U.S. Labor statistics show Texas leading the nation in professional and business services job creation. The job sector category includes such diverse occupations as accounting, advertising, business consulting, computer programming and the law. So, what was all that about Texas having only minimum wage dead end jobs (and oh, don't forget the Texas only has jobs in the oil industry meme)?

Posted by: Sydney at August 23, 2011 10:09 PM

Gee, Crank, do you think you'll EVER be correct about anything you write? Or did you mean 1960s-70s Detroit Tigers Outfielder, Willie Horton?

Allow Somersby:
Is it true? Did Al Gore “bring Willie Horton to the American people?” Did Al Gore “bring Willie Horton into that race?” Only in the dysfunctional world of our deeply devolved public discourse. What actually happened in 1988? In one of 45 Dem debates that year, Candidate Gore challenged Candidate Dukakis to defend a Massachusetts furlough program under which convicts serving life sentences without hope of parole were released on weekend passes. In particular, Gore noted that two furloughed prisoners had committed new murders while on weekend leave. (Willie Horton was not one of these convicts.) The program was almost impossible to defend. But Gore only mentioned the program once, and he never mentioned any prisoner’s name; never mentioned any prisoner’s race; never ran any TV ads on the topic; and never used any visuals. More specifically, he never named Willie Horton, or mentioned his specific crime (Horton committed a brutal rape while on leave). In the Bush-Dukakis general election, the Bush campaign—and an independent, pro-Bush group—made extensive use of the Horton incident. In particular, the independent group used visuals of Horton which seemed to emphasize his race (he was black). In later years, as he neared his death, Bush campaign director Lee Atwater apologized for his own conduct in pushing the racial aspects of the Horton matter.
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Posted by: Berto at August 23, 2011 10:20 PM

Russ Vaughan,
Interesting stuff about Texas tort reform. I'd be interested to know how they got business to accept limited litigation. In most of the country, the courts are cluttered with lawsuits brought by businesses.

Also, regarding the lack of dignity from the current FLOTUS: Did you hear Michelle Obama fed a dead chicken to her kids, then used the bones to make soup?

Posted by: Berto at August 23, 2011 10:25 PM

I'll believe Perry is some kind of straight-shooter when he tells the American homeowner the house they bought within the last 15 years is now worth about 40% what they paid for it. (Who's going to pay more than 40%, the person with the dead-end, minimum wage job, or the one who is unemployed?)

Posted by: Berto at August 23, 2011 10:30 PM

I'm a Texan & there is a whole lot of misinformation about Texas in this article & the comments.

The Governor & Lt. Governor do not run as a team in Texas. The candidates each run separate campaigns. The Lt, Governor actually has more power in many respects than the governor. That is the result of circumventing carpet bagging Yankee appointed governors.

The 27% of Texans that have no health insurance are largely illegal aliens that the federal government has refused to do their job & send them packing. Ditto for the minimum wage earners. Texas has one hell of a problem with illegal aliens.

Texas has more hydrocarbon processing plants than any other state. The jobs in those plants provide good incomes ($100,000.00 per year) & full benefits.

There are more points but this should stir the communist on this site up a little.

Posted by: clyde at August 24, 2011 7:45 AM

Crank: This is the best, smartest assessment of Perry & our electoral prospects that I've seen yet, including some pretty good stuff at RCP and from Jay Cost at Weekly Standard. Thank you.
Personally, as a strong, but not rabid Palinista, I've swung the range of emotions on the impact of Perry for both the party and the country. His advocacy of forced vaccinations for sexually transmitted diseases with a questionable, expensive vaccine was and is problematic, as is the existence of a $200million Technology slush fund set up by he and the legislature which has apparently been predictably abused. But your piece here may be tipping me back in his favor. Romney, to me, is a non-starter at this point, at least for those of us looking beyond November 2012. I do wonder how a resuscitated, reinvigorated, already immunized Palin would impact the political map. She and Perry could vie for smartest candidate with simultaneously the most Cs and Ds on their transcripts.

Posted by: smokedaddy at August 24, 2011 8:54 AM

Berto, if you concede that the furlough "program was almost impossible to defend," as Somerby does, then you concede the point that it was a legitimate campaign issue.

Posted by: Crank at August 24, 2011 10:56 AM

Crank,
And what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?
You, the liar or just congenitally misinformed, stated that Gore brought up Willie Horton, and therefore Gore, not the GOP is the real racist. Somersby, I, and anyone who knows what they are talking about are calling "Bullshit".
Gore didn't even bring up the furlough program that involved Horton. He didn't name Horton, he didn't mention race, he didn't show any images of the "scary black man".

Shorter Crank: Presidential campaigns use strategy to win, the South is a part of the electoral campaign, therefore the Southern Strategy is not a cynical campaign to move racists to vote for the GOP candidate.

For the rest of the readers here, I will ask yet again: Is Crank a liar (who plays stupid on the internet) or is he really just a another Conservative moron? He's paid big money to be a NYC lawyer, so my money is on liar.

Posted by: Berto at August 24, 2011 11:47 AM

Berto,

You have crossed the line in calling Crank a liar. Please apologize.

Posted by: Lee at August 24, 2011 12:56 PM

California was also briefly an independent nation. Just sayin'

Posted by: Rich at August 24, 2011 2:53 PM

Lee,
That lie about Gore injecting Willie Horton into the political conversation was thoroughly debunked more than 10 years ago.
And this isn't the first time Crank has peddled such nonsense on this site.
Is he lying when he writes he cares deeply about deficits and government spending (hoping his readers will buy it), or is he too stupid to notice that it was he who waved away anyone who brought up Bush's unpaid for wars, MediCare Part D policy, and tax cuts during wartime (not to mention "losing" an $8+ billion palate of cash)--claiming they just suffered from Bush-derangement Syndrome?

Is he lying when he writes that he has an unwavering belief in the Constitution and small-government, after defending the federal government for spying on citizens without a warrant, or is he too stupid to notice the blatant hypocrisy?

And don't get me started on the whole "'9/11 is the most important thing evah!' as long as we know as little about how it happened as possible" schtick.

I'll mark you down on the side that thinks Crank (the highly-educated NYC lawyer) is stupid or congenitally misinformed. Noted, thanks.

Posted by: Berto at August 24, 2011 3:30 PM

The A&M that Perry graduated from was, for all practical purposes, an all-male military school - not "an ROTC-style organization".

Instead it had more commissioned more military officers than the academies. Today it is one of the few places where a student can earn a commission in any of the services. That includes the Air Force where Perry served, the Army, the Navy and the Marine Corps.

Posted by: DrP at August 24, 2011 4:45 PM

Sorry Crank,

They are not recycled left-wing talking points, I'm just calling you on your BS.

To paraphrase Harry Truman, the wing nuts complain that I'm giving them hell when all I'm doing is telling the truth and they think it is hell.

Posted by: Magrooder at August 25, 2011 9:25 AM
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