Skip to comments.Rick Perry: the Paint Creek boy who would be king
Posted on 08/10/2011 4:49:52 PM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
It is a pocket of rural America that has changed little in a century and is about as far removed from the bustle and marble monuments of Washington DC as one could imagine.
But Paint Creek, where ranches and wooden homes, some now abandoned, are dotted beside cotton and wheat fields, is the place that defines the man who some Republicans believe could unseat President Barack Obama next November.
Governor Rick Perry was part of the fifth generation to work the land at Paint Creek, some 200 miles west of Dallas on the flat expanse of plains known as the Big Empty.
It was here that he was imbued with the country values of church, family, neighbourliness, thrift and hard work that now seem part of a bygone America beyond places like West Texas.
There were three things to do in Paint Creek: school, church, and Boy Scouts, Mr Perry said last year, looking back on the late 1950s. Thats it. And it was plenty. Paint Creek was one of the most beautiful places or it could be one of the most desolate depending on the weather. As a child, he ventured, it was the home of some of the most principled, disciplined people in the world, and faithful.
Back in the late 1950s, he was known as Ricky Perry, a mischievous boy, always smiling, who lived with his parents and older sister Milla in a rented wooden house that lacked indoor plumbing. He wore a cowboy shirt hand sewn by his mother, a locally renowned quilter, and his highest ambition seemed to be to become an Eagle Scout.
(Excerpt) Read more at telegraph.co.uk ...
Did not know he was an eagle scout and a piper cub pilot
Captain Gardasil will never be my King.
Mr Perry is descended from Confederate veterans of the Civil War on both sides. In an old interview with his grandfather Hoyt Perry, who died in 1992, he recalled how his father arrived at Paint Creek in 1887.
...the elder Mr Perry, who was out fixing his irrigation system, describes how he took a bus from Paint Creek after graduating from the school in 1943 and joined the US Air Force.
...He was subsequently stationed at RAF Horham in Suffolk, from which he flew missions over Germany in B-17 bombers.
...I flew 35 missions as a tail gunner and never got a scratch. We had one gunner killed and one wounded. They got damn close to me but they missed me. His son followed him into the Air Force in 1972 and became a transport pilot, flying C-130s in Europe and the Middle East.
When to compared Obama, the contrast is startling.
For example, I've heard that Perry was campaign manager for Algore in 1988, back when Perry was still a demonrat.
Since Perry didn't switch parties until after Reagan left office, did Perry vote for Jimmy Carter?
Did Perry campaign for Carter, too, like he did for Algore?
"I'll confess, I wasn't paying much attention. I was flying," Perry said. "Jimmy Carter. Peanut farmer. Georgia. Fooled us."
Carter carried every Southern state but Virginia in 1976.
No word on how Perry voted in 1980, 1984, or 1988.
He's had quite a life. There's an Abe Lincoln in there somewhere.
At the school, from which Mr Perry graduated third in a class of 13 in 1968, Don Ballard, the school superintendent, reflected on the place that had made Mr Perry what he is.
We had farm values, he said We got up, we worked and we knew what the dollar meant. There was no squandering money here there and yonder. Everybody struggled.
Everybody struggled. Youd have a good crop one year and maybe a bad crop the next. Rick Perry understands being up and being down and that if youre down youve got to work to get back up. Most of the families round here want their kids to be better and have more than what they had growing up.
When I was a kid I was working on a crew in Texas. I found a copy of A Texan Looks at Lyndon in an old cupboard and I tossed it in the truck to read on our downtime. The boss happened to see it on the seat and had a fit. He wanted to know if anyone else could have seen it and warned me that they would break my legs if anyone caught me with it. Thats how Democrat they were.
Texas populism embraced a broad spectrum of sometimes conflicting ideas: Rent control on agricultural land, government ownership of banks and communications and railroads, a special force of cronys and supporters operating under color of law and unanswerable to anyone but the Governor, controlled production of oil are all examples of Texas conservatism. The Texas Railroad Commission (whose scope extended far beyond hot oil and freight rates) had an anti-business bias that would make the Greenies jealous. They were about as far left as you could get without falling off. Texas was one of the first states to ratify the 16th. It wasnt that they were Progressives, they just figgered you couldnt tax what you didnt have none of. Texas had two saving graces. The first was that it is so damned big that it had to be governed much like a country. A lot of tax the big boy legislation was DOA because there just wasnt enough money to go around. The second was that enough oilmen got rich enough fast enough to buy the legislature. They woulda taxed them if they coulda. There are and have been some great conservatives in Texas (Gramm and Hersarling come immediately to mind) but they are the exception and not the rule.
Most Texas politics are clear as mud. You just have to cock your head sideways and watch for a while and then try to sort it out. Like in 1952 when the Democrat nominee for governor, Allan Shrivers delivered an ass-whoopin to the Republican nominee for governor, Allan Shrivers. It just dont make no sense atall cept in Texas. Then you have characters like Ma and Pa Ferguson and Pappy ODaniel; call em a conservative and theyd likely slap you around, call em a liberal and theyd likely slap you around, call em a jackass and theyd think about it. Texas makes my haid hurt.
And they think the rest of the world is screwed up.
The economics are quasi-socialist but the social structure is rigid and moralistic and authoritarian.
West Texas is a peculiar place. From the top of the panhandle, down across the llano and into the Permian theres a flint edged conservatism that doesnt tolerate a lot of diversity of any kind. Its not Republican, its more of a frontier independence and a crusty absolutism. They dont trust the government but they cash the checks and they better not be late. From the old XIT counties down along the New Mexico line theres ranchers and oilmen and just plain eccentrics who couldnt live anywheres else. As tough as they are, theyre a good humored bunch and Id rather talk poly-ticks here than about anywhere. Most went Reagan by 70% and McCain by 90. Theres nothing quite like it, the closest I have seen is in northern Nevada.
Its a hard and dangerous country and always has been. The Spanish and even the Injuns avoided it. You could die of thirst out there if you didnt know where the watering holes were. The Comanches ended up there because all the other Injuns kicked their asses out of the more desirable real estate. The horse finally changed their status from bug eaters to feared warriors. Theres been a time or two when Ive been caught in that parched wilderness with nothing to drink. I remember one time when things was getting mighty thirsty and the buzzards would have got us fer shur except that we happened across an old Injun who showed us that you could squeeze water out of a faucet. It was such a turrible ordeal that we had to drink water just to survive. It was rough but it kept us alive until we got back to civilization in a wet county.
Texas dry counties.
Once I got stopped for drag racing or some such in a grain truck. In the old days the law said that you couldnt drive barefoot or with Jesus boots (sandals). That was understandable as much of the equipment we used was from the 40s and 50s or even the 30s. Kickback could break your ankle and you near had to stand on the brakes and drag a stick out the winder to stop.
I had a big gash in my foot from some sort of foolishness on the equipment and I had wrapped it and put my boot on over it but left the boot unlaced. This confounded the Junior Texas Ranger to no small degree. That just werent done. There must have been a nest of em somewheres because he radioed for hep and they began arriving. I was sitting on the running board and as each patrol car pulled up the driver would get out come over and look at my foot. Yep, boot unlaced. They would then take a long look at my mug like they were trying to remember if theyd seen it in a poster somewhere and then theyd walk over and join the conference. After about an hour and six or seven patrol cars they finally decided that boot unlaced probably meant barefoot but they were going to do me a really big favor and let me go just this oncet. Any more infractions of civil society and it was the Big House for me.
Another time I was in a greasy spoon for breakfast. It was the usual early morning crew of ranchers, farmhands, oilfield roughnecks and a county cop or two. The banter was subdued and light. One of the boys jokingly said something that got one of the coppers in a dither. There was instant tension and absolute quiet while the cop stared down the offender. Just like the dumbass I am, I tried to crack a joke to break the tension. The cop instantly swung his attention to me and I was in a heap o trouble. The look he gave me let me know exactly how he felt. He would have shooted me and throwed the carcass to the coyotes if there werent so many witnesses and he was thinking about doing it anyway. The kick that I got under the table from the boss left a three inch dent in my shin. I shut my mouf. Biscuits and gravy finally got the best of the mountie and he went back to stuffing his gizzard.
When I limped outside, the boss caught up with me and warned me never to get on the wrong side of a Texas cop. You arent in Kansas any more Toto, Here we grovel. I dont want to spend the next six hours standing in the bar ditch while they write me tickets.
When they say that you haint otter do something, it means that you haint otter do it.
Im throwing these out there to illustrate just how authoritarian Texas is. From the last fencepost in Texas, north to the Canadian border, neither of these incidents would have happened. If it did there would have been a call to the governors office and a cop with a chewed-on butt. Up north we could go for weeks or months and never even see a cop. In Texas they were everywhere looking for the smallest infraction. The venerated Texan standing against the government is wash of the hog. You do it the Texas way or not at all. Everything revolves around government. Even Oklahoma aint that backerd.
When I heard that Perry was from West Texas it really piqued my interest. When I found out that he was from Paint Creek in Haskell County, well, that aint good.
This is Haskell County and these are the results of the 1976 presidential. Haskell went for Carter by 75%. That is not in the least surprising. In 1964 Haskell County voted Johnson with 85%, one of the highest in Texas. From the base of the panhandle south and east this is solid Democrat country with a decided flavor of the Old South; cotton country from the time cotton growers fled the weevil along the coast. If LBJ were to come back tomorrow I have no doubt that he would get the same 85%. The depression and dust bowl hit the region hard and set the Democrat ballot in stone. If you had to compare it to anything it would be Little Dixie up in Oklahoma. These arent LBJ Republicans, they are LBJ Democrats. They are nice people but you best watch what you say. They shoot skunks and Republicans.
Remember Ed Hale, the West Texas rancher who was very vocal in his support of Hillary Clinton and arranged well publicized cyber meetings in opposition to Obama? He was from Wellington in Collingsworth County.
In these parts politics are handed down grandfather to father to son. It is deeply embedded in the culture. You cant grow up in that and not have it affect you. It sets your political instincts. Theyve shifted voting patterns but they havent changed their basic ideology. They dont vote Democrat as much but they are reluctant Republicans.
If you start right after breakfast and drive due north you can have lunch at the Cattlemans Café in Sublette, Haskell County, Kansas (Oklahoma has one, too. Pioneers werent original thinkers). Drive down to the courthouse either place and you wont see much difference. Blue jeans and overhauls, pretty grey-haired ladies in the latest Wal-mart fashion, but theres much more than the Oklahoma panhandle that separates them. The politics are polar opposites. Up nawth they dont need therapy to vote. There was a Democrat here once but he lit out when he got out of jail and they havent seen him since. Both counties are turning brown at about the same rate as the old folks head for the pearlys and the youngsters head for Wichita or Abilene.
Both are ag counties and both depend on God and the Ogalala for prosperity. God seems to favor the Kansans because income is far higher there. There is much more food stamp usage (3X) and general welfare reliance in Texas because more folks are po. There is government everywhere, hepin folks, learnin em how to farm, to eat, to get on another government program. Population is climbing in the northern Haskell and declining in the southern one. At current rates Texas will have to fold it up and move it to a better location in forty years. Haskell County, Kansas is as conservative and Republican as you can get. Haskell County, Texas aint either one.
This is what Im working on. Federal agricultural subsidies have stabilized production and brought a degree of prosperity to the central states for half a century. They are going to end. We are trying to move out ahead of the storm and garner whatever support we can and to get these areas to prepare. Its surprising, on the northern plains the farmers are receptive. Actually receptive is the wrong word, they are resigned to it. They know it is going to end. They piss and moan a bit and theyll drag it out as long as possible but they are ready. In Texas its a different story. If Gawd dint want them to have the subsidy checks he wouldnt have put them in the envelopes and mailed them.
They have a point. Ive seen a dozen or more models of what will happen without subsidies and this is the area that gets hurt the most. It will devastate the area. Here, there are just no options. We may just have to give it back to the Injuns.
Most of Texas went with Reagan in 1980 but it wasnt a slam-dunk. Texas was critical for Reagan and he focused on it. It took a lot of effort and a vice-presidential nomination to seal the deal but he did it. Haskell County and its surrounds liked Carter better.
In 1984 there were still some holdouts for Mondale, as Northern and as liberal as you could get.
In 1988 Dukakis made a strong showing against H. W. , a Texan. Dukakis fer Gods sake. He werent no conservative Southern Democrat
Perot and Clinton
Dole vs. Clinton.
What does an ambitious young feller from Paint Creek do? He grows up Democrat. He lives Democrat. He votes Democrat. He runs for office as a Democrat. He supports Democrats for national office. He is a Democrat. I wouldnt be the least surprised if he had a D branded on his rump. Can a farm kid from Paint Creek go off to Austin and become a born again Republican? I suppose it might could be. More likely opportunity presents itself and he gets a shiny new coat of Republican paint. That dont make him a Republican.
The current prosperity in Texas was a long time in the making. It was Mark White, a Democrat who was Governor when oil crashed in the mid-80s, who started the ball rolling. One of his protégés was a jug eared lunar-tick named Ross Perot who convinced him that there was more to the world than oil and cotton and cows. Bill Clements, a vastly underrated governor, picked the theme up and ran with it. He imported some Yankees who set about making UT a tech powerhouse and teaching the Aggies how to count past fingers and toes.
Right now Texas is riding the oil boom. Ag is strong but hurting from the drought and tech is sputtering along. Weve seen it before in other states, the growth in Texas is in growth. At least tech is there, something they didnt have before. Texas is limping, just like every other state, but they should lead in coming out of this mess. All of the elements are in place.
Perry didnt create the economic model that keeps Texas afloat but he did nothing to derail it, either. The hard work was done a long time ago by some super sharp business people and professors and banks and civic leaders. There are a bunch of states studying what Texas did and how they did it. Many of the people responsible have passed on and most are retired but there are some really interesting stories on how a few hundred people can affect the destiny of a state. Low taxes are a necessity but they are not the end all and be all.
There are several possible candidates that we would prefer, they just aint likely. Sarah Palin would be tall cotton for us. Jim DeMint isnt an exact match but hes close enough that we can mash him in with a hambler. A President Perry would not be the worst thing to happen to the Republic but we are going into this with eyes wide open. In the first place, Perry would dance with those what brung him. Regardless of who gets swept out in front by the tsunami their options have been limited. The big question is whether he reverts to boyhood values or whether he understands the economic forces at work and lets them run their course, even if it destroys those boyhood values. Independence and a willingness to relax the federal grip are of more importance than any other posturing. So far we like what we see from him. Time will tell if it is just happy talk or not.
We want to do two things. We want to break the western states out as a regional power and we want to wean the red states off the federal tit. When he used the phrase have states compete our ears perked up. That is our language, straight out of our literature. Of course he, or someone near him, could have purloined it or figgered it out on their own. What was obscure is now becoming obvious.
May God Bless.
“Since Perry didn’t switch parties until after Reagan left office, did Perry vote for Jimmy Carter?”
What’s always bugged me about Perry is that he did work to try to get Al Gore elected president...RIGHT AFTER the Democrats nearly impeached Reagan over Iran-Contra. That’s why it’s still really hard to trust his judgement.
No conservative would EVER work to further the interests of that party, after such a spectacle being made of such a fine president.
(and, in fairness, Gore did seem reasonably moderate in the Senate back then, but even so...)
Then, you're bugged by irrelevancies given that Perry was also among the most conservative Democrats in Texas in the 1980s and was supporting the more conservative Democrat in the race in 1988, who at that time was Algore.
Does it bug you Reagan voted for FDR?
If you're going to attack Perry, at least come up with something that makes some sense.
“Does it bug you Reagan voted for FDR? “
Well it would depend. FDR wanted us to get involved in WW2 because it was coming our way whether we liked it or not. If we waited too long, Germany would have gotten their nukes and rockets to work and it would have been GAME OVER.
The Republicans, on the other hand, were Pat Buchannon types (America-First, to be specific), who figured that we could stick our heads in the sand and all the world’s problems would just go away - and we would just be left alone while the rest of the world lived in tyranny.
So who was right? Any problem with Reagan, now?
Rick Perry spoke in San Antonio today.
One of the local stations interviewed people on the street to query their opinions of a Rick Perry Presidency. Out of those, they interviewed, one was white, and pro-Perry. Basically, she said we need a “new President.” The rest of those interviewed were hispanics. Of those hispanics (which is the majority in SA), all supported Perry with the exception of one, who simply stated that he hoped that Commander Perry, if elected would remember that everyone, even Illegals are human beings.
Perry has carried the hispanic vote here, and he would in a national run, too.
I can see how that could happen if you weren’t paying much attention and were a farmer from the southern part of the country. You might think “Farmer/South” over “California/Actor” if you weren’t paying much attention to politics. Plus, if my grandmother is any example, Texans have an instinctual distrust of Californians since they somehow resent the Okies who picked up and moved to California during the Great Depression. I don’t quite understand how or why this is exactly.
At the time, Okies was a catchall term for everybody what was displaced by the Great Depression and the associated drought conditions in the Southwest. Everywhere except in Oklahoma, that is -- where I understand we used the term Arkies...
By definition, an Okie was poor, uneducated and without any redeeming social virtue -- the epitome of "poor white trash".
Never mind that, ten years later, Okies owned most of the businesses in the Central Valley of California...
Are you even from Texas?
I was born and raised in North Texas and the state has not been Democrat since Ann Richards left. Ann Richards was very Conservative. Everybody I know here is a Conservative and hates Obama.
And do not listen to this goof ball when he describes Texas....It is beautiful!
And as far as the people and the state...we DO NOT GIVE A CRAP what other people think of us, and we never will. We are harshly independent and God fearing.
My great grandfather came to Texas in the early 1800’s and we have always had to work our ass off for everything we have. We are friendly, hospitable and Proud to be TEXANS!
Of course not. Given the times, the war, that the latest technology was sitting by the radio with those fireside chats, FDR, especially during his first and second terms was a truly great American to most, I would guess. Especially so since we won the war.
However, it would bug me if Perry didn't vote for Reagan.
And it would bug me a lot more if Perry campaigned against him.
I'd like to trust the President and his judgment and be comfortable with what I think the President is going to do. I'm not getting the warm and fuzzies about him you Perry people have. It's the opposite for some reason.
Perry supporters, especially those in Texas, seem to have the comfort of familiarity I guess and seem to be able to gloss over things that jump out at me.
Among my votes the first time I went to the ballot box was one for John McCain and I kept voting for him. He sure seemed like trustworthy war hero to a young hick from the middle of nowhere, but look how he turned out. I still feel like I owe everyone an apology for McCain.
For some reason, Perry sets off the same sort of warning bells in me that McCain does, and some that Clinton did. Experience is a harsh teacher of lessons you just don't forget. I sure as hell don't want to repeat them.
I've been here a long time and over the years I've come to like and respect a lot of you who have come out for Perry.
I'm not trying to pick fights, especially since we are more or less on the same side. I just wish you could see what I see as I suppose you want me to see what you see.
Brilliant essay. Thanks...