Molly Ivins (God rest her soul) was a liberal columnist who, prior to her death in 2007, took great delight in immortalizing Rick Perry of Texas as “Gov. Goodhair.” In tribute to Ivins, and in recognition of Perry’s announcement that he intends to become President Goodhair, I have modified my mug shot for this column to a more densely coifed presentation. Quite presidential, don’t you think?
Many of us remember how Ivins became so upset with President George W. Bush (the subject of her political biography “Shrub”) that she closed her Sept. 13, 2005, column with this prophetic warning: “Next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be president of the United States, please pay attention.” Sadly, Molly’s not around to warn us these days, but I, as a Recovering Texan and a former half-century resident of the Lone Star State, can smile when reflecting on her prescient admonition.
The first thing you need to know about Rick Perry is that he has served longer than any other governor in Texas history: 10½ years. Boy, howdy, he’s about as Texan as you can get. As Hendrik Hertzberg wrote in The New Yorker, this guy “wears more cowboy gear than a 6-year-old boy on Halloween.”
The second thing you should know is that Perry is a real straight-shooter. Literally. In February last year, Perry was jogging along with his dog, minding his own dad-gum bidness, when this coyote runs up and threatens the dog. Perry responded just like any red-blooded Texan. He pulled out his laser-sighted .380 Ruger and dispatched the varmint “to where coyotes go.” And, just to make sure, with a hollow-point bullet.
Strange view of ‘life’
In researching Perry’s presidential aspirations, there are 232 people I’d like to interview. But I can’t because they’re dead. Their executions were presided over by Perry. That’s the American record, you know. But it didn’t stop Perry from proclaiming at a June 12 “Unidos por la Vida” rally in Los Angeles that “every life is precious.” The previous record for gubernatorially sanctioned killings was 152 by Perry’s predecessor, Shrub, who once insisted “all life is sacred.” I guess it depends on your definition of “every life” and “all life.”
And Texans are pretty sure those executees were guilty, too. Oh, there was this one guy in 2009 whose execution was followed by reports that the evidence had been unconvincing. But after Perry replaced three members of the Texas Forensic Science Commission, the pesky little matter seems to be fading into irrelevance.
And then there was Humberto Leal Garcia Jr., a Mexican citizen who was executed this year. According to Sarah Jaffee of alternet.org, Perry authorized this execution “over the objections of the Mexican government, his own president, and the International Court of Justice. Even George W. Bush, in 2005, ordered all states to comply with the international law mandating consular access to officials from their home country for foreign nationals. Rick Perry was the only one not to comply.”
All of this has me thinking, man, if President Goodhair ever has to go to war? He won’t be kowtowing to any silly War Powers Act.
Many other issues about Perry’s past are sure to be dissected by the lame-stream, gotcha-question media. They’ll want to know why, according to takebacktexas.org, Perry’s Texas ranks last in the nation in state spending per capita, No. 1 in the growth of child poverty, and last in the nation in percentage of residents over 25 with high school diplomas, despite ranking 11th in property taxes. Or why Texas ranks 50th in Medicaid reimbursement rates. Or why Texans pay the highest homeowners’ insurance rates in the nation.
But, hey, let’s not dwell on the negative. Even with all the adversity down in Texas, I hear Brylcreem sales are through the roof.
John Laird is The Columbian’s editorial page editor. His column of personal opinion appears each Sunday. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.