The Marketing of Rick Perry

Texas Governor Rick Perry has ridden into the GOP presidential race on his high horse,  threatening to ‘get ugly’ with Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve Chairman, stopping just short of accusing him of treason, and catering, as expected, to the most radical of the radical right wing.

Mr. Perry, for some bizarre reason, has captured the twisted imaginations of those who combine a brand of Christianity that Jesus Christ wouldn’t recognize, with a heavy worship of capitalism, and an irrational fear of anyone not white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant thrown in for good measure.

As he goes about spreading hate and intolerance, both of which play so well to the Tea Party, Mr. Perry often chooses to relinquish facts; again, a trait welcome to the far right wing. This is displayed in a variety of ways that can be seen by looking at some of the governor’s ‘accomplishments’ and statements, as taken from the ‘Perry for President’ website:

“Rick Perry will finally force Washington to fulfill its constitutional duty to secure our international borders.”

One of the Tea Party’s pet peeves is illegal immigration, that dastardly practice of allowing immigrants to slip through the extensive U.S. borders, especially that with Mexico, thus enabling them to wreak untold amounts of havoc as they bus tables, work on construction crews, and cut grass.
In Januray of 2011, a U.S. missionary couple, Sam and Nancy Davis, working in Mexico, were pursued by bandits, possibly seeking to steal their truck, valued at $50,000. As Mr. Davis tried to flee, the bandits began shooting, hitting and killing Mrs. Davis. In response, Mr. Perry’s spokeswoman, Katherine Cesinger, said Mrs. Davis’ murder underscores the need for greater border security. “’How many Americans are going to have to die for the federal government to pay attention and realize they need to secure the border,’ she said.”

The fact that this tragic shooting occurred at least 70 miles south of the Mexican/US border does not seem to concern Mr. Perry. He did not comment on crime in Mexico; the danger of driving flashy vehicles through areas known for criminal activity; the folly and accompanying risks of attempting to outrun murderous car thieves, etc. No, he seemed to see a crime that occurred in Mexico as demonstrating the need to ‘secure the border.’ Perhaps he is blaming the Davises for crossing into Mexico; after all, one must assume that if the border is ‘secure,’ no one could pass from either side to the other.

“No other candidate for President – Republican or Democrat – can match Rick Perry’s record on job creation.”

The website goes on to say that 40% of new jobs created in the U.S. since June of 2009 have been in Texas. This may be true, but one must not consider rushing off to Texas to achieve the great American dream

(whatever that is). Most of those jobs pay minimum wage, and few carry health benefits.  Also, industry has been attracted to Texas due to its limited environmental and safety regulations, bringing these businesses from other U.S. states. So if a voter wants to see reduced environmental and safety regulations made the law of the land, and seeks the creation of millions of jobs that pay minimum wage, Mr. Perry is the right candidate. So what if people will not be able to own homes, send their children to college, or get medical care? At least they will be working!

“Rick Perry believes the best way for the federal government to improve healthcare is to stimulate job creation so more Americans are covered by employer-sponsored health plans.”

One wonders how job creation is related to employer-sponsored health plans. A generation ago, health care was one of the standard benefits offered to employees; this has not been the case for years. Anyone who has been employed by a large corporation in the last 25 years is familiar with co-pays, deductibles, exclusion clauses, endless paperwork, etc. Employers are under no obligation to provide health care to their employees.

Also, with all the jobs Mr. Perry claims to have created in Texas, he might notice that most of them do not include health care. Why, one might reasonably ask, should he be trusted to provide this miracle to the entire United States, when he has failed to do so in Texas?

“If elected, Perry will repeal Obamacare.”

And, one presumes, cross his fingers and hope that employers decide to provide medical coverage to all employees. One wonders what color the sky is on Mr. Perry’s planet.

“Rick Perry believes in American exceptionalism.”

Although interpreted in different ways, American exceptionalism is a throwback to ‘Manifest Destiny,’ that belief that the United States was divinely ordained to run roughshod over the rest of the world, making up rules as it went along that only other nations need follow; violate them at their peril.

Mr. Perry “rejects the notion our president should apologize for our country but instead believes allies and adversaries alike must know that America seeks peace from a position of strength. We must strengthen our diplomatic relationships, and stand firm with our allies against our common enemies.”

So when the U.S. embarks on a military misadventure that its major allies shun, then causes a civil war which kills hundreds of thousands of people, destroys a country’s infrastructure and creates strife between sects that had managed to live in relative peace together for generations, there is no need for an apology? When said military action displaces millions of people, causes the U.S. president who spawned it to be seen as the second most dangerous person in the world, and results in the U.S. being hated around the globe, no kind of apology would be necessary? Oh, that’s right: American Exceptionalism. The U.S. is allowed to do whatever it pleases, and is exempt from considering how its actions might negatively impact anyone, including its own citizens.

To say that ‘America seeks peace’ would be laughable, were it not so astoundingly tragic. When a country arbitrarily overthrows democratically-elected governments, supports covert actions against others, and invades a nation whose only crime is the possession of large amounts of oil, it is hard to see it as seeking peace.

And so it goes. Mr. Perry is seen as a viable alternative to the current GOP frontrunner, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, the cardboard cutout of himself who has the effrontery to be a Mormon, if one can imagine such a horror. Mr. Romney, additionally, must overcome the crime of having provided healthcare to the people of Massachusetts, and having actually supported the rights of same-sex couples. No, says the Tea Party, which now controls the once-proud Republican Party; Mr. Romney may be next in line for the nomination-coronation, but he is obviously ineligible. It is Mr. Perry, the darling of the evangelical right, who will wear the bright cape, with the big ‘TP’ emblazoned on his chest (that’s for Tea Party, not toilet paper, in case you were wondering), who will save the day.

But it is not yet over; the fat lady has not yet sung. Former Alaska Governor and 2008 Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin seems ready to throw her battered hat into the ring, and we mustn’t forget Minnesota Representative Michelle Bachman, known mainly for her valiant campaign to restore light-bulb freedom of choice. Ah yes, the brightest lights (speaking of bulbs) may still be on the horizon.

President Obama is seen as vulnerable, due mainly to the sputtering U.S. economy. But the GOP may want to take a lesson from their own party in 1964, and the Democrats in 1972 (probably not, but let’s make the suggestion anyway). In 1964, the Republicans nominated the far-right Arizona Senator, Barry Goldwater, wildly popular with the right, but not even tolerated by anyone else. He was decisively defeated by an abominable president, Lyndon Johnson. In 1972, the Democrats, always happy to make their own mistakes rather than learn from the mistakes of others, nominated South Dakota Senator George McGovern, revered by the left wing, but by no one else. He was soundly defeated by another awful president, Richard Nixon.

One might say what they will about the disappointing (at best) administration of Mr. Obama. But when opposed by either of the two Republican clowns mentioned here, or any of the others currently awaiting their turn in the three-ring circus called the Republican Party, he begins to regain some of the luster of his first campaign.

And so it goes. Another U.S. election campaign farce is underway. At least the late-night talk show hosts will have plenty of material to work with for the next 14 months.

Robert Fantina is author of ‘Desertion and the American Soldier: 1776–2006.   

Robert Fantina’s latest book is Propaganda, Lies and False Flags: How the U.S. Justifies its Wars.