Skip to comments.FIRST-PERSON: Rick Perry is no George W. Bush
Posted on 09/20/2011 11:11:46 AM PDT by smoothsailing
FIRST-PERSON: Rick Perry is no George W. Bush
As a sixth-generation Texan of similar age and life experiences, perhaps I can explain some differences between the two. Of course, it will be up to voters to decide whether these differences make a difference.
THE SAME, ONLY DIFFERENT
Bush moved to Texas as a toddler and eagerly embraced the Texas ethos. Texans love people who move to the state and embrace its "Don't Mess With Texas" creed. They smile when they see bumper stickers proclaiming, "I wasn't born here, but I got here as fast as I could."
Perry, however, is the son of tenant farmers from the West Texas hamlet of Paint Creek, outside Abilene. Texas is his DNA. Perry has often said that while they did not have much financially, his family was rich in the things that mattered. He attended Texas A&M when it was permeated by an all-male, all-military culture, which Perry embraced, becoming a "yell leader" (A&M's version of a cheerleader on steroids).
Bush, by contrast, was raised by wealthy New Englanders, summered in Maine and attended Yale and Harvard. In this case, parentage made more than just a stark economic difference.
In many ways, I have lived between George W.'s and Rick Perry's worlds. Like Perry, I was raised in modest circumstances. Like Bush, I went to an Ivy League school (Princeton). Like Perry, I had a Texan father, and like Bush, a New England mother. My father imparted to me the sheer sense of "anything is possible" that is the Texas heritage, but my Bostonian mother reminded me that biggest is not always best and loudest is not always wisest -- Texas with perspective, a rare gift. All three of us had fathers who were World War II combat veterans. Their dads were pilots, my dad a Navy chief. We are all proud of our fathers' patriotic service.
In 2010, Newsweek featured Perry with a revelatory cover photo. Perry's boots were adorned with what Texans call "the first Texas flag." What that flag says about Texans of the Bush-Perry era is instructive. In 1835, Mexico demanded that rebellious Texas settlers return a cannon it had lent them to ward off hostile Indians. The Texans responded by drawing a replica of the cannon on a bed sheet and writing under it, "COME AND TAKE IT." Mexico did not get the cannon back. That Texas folklore was a significant part of every young Texan's upbringing. That Perry would put that flag on his boots tells us more about him than anything in Newsweek. This "Don't Mess with Texas" mindset is embraced by both men, but Perry, the Aggie, had neither Bush's parents nor Yale or Harvard to tone it down.
It is clear to those who know former President George W. Bush that he has great respect and affection for the average man and tremendous appreciation for those who have risen through the meritocracy from humble beginnings. However, as one of those "up from the ranks" individuals, I don't believe George W. Bush or any such son of privilege can as fully identify with the average family that lives from paycheck to paycheck as Perry can. Bush loves and appreciates them, Perry is them.
Their different backgrounds make them different men. Perry is less subtle. While both are men of genuine faith, Perry (life-long evangelical) is going to be more overtly Christian in his faith statements than the former president, who became a Methodist but was raised by New England Episcopalians. Perry is more conservative than Bush. He would be the most conservative president since Calvin Coolidge both fiscally and in foreign policy. He would be less interventionist in the latter and far more frugal than "compassionate" in the former. Perry also has a well-deserved reputation in Texas as being a less-forgiving political opponent than Bush. If you cross Perry, he will get even.
It would be a mistake to underestimate the appeal of this candidate's conservative populism. Perry has never lost an election and while he would be offended if you called him an intellectual, Perry is far more shrewd than people assume. His brain trust in his past election, where he defeated the George H.W. Bush-backed establishment candidate, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, included a group of Ivy League brainiacs on the cutting edge of campaign and election research.
The USA is not Texas, but large chunks are similar. Perry's appeal increases the farther you go from either the east or left coast. Large numbers of Americans are moving to Texas. Enough people moved in the past decade to give the state four new congressional seats. The question for Rick Perry and GOP primary voters: Does America want to be more like his pro-business, pro-growth Texas? If the answer is "yes," Perry is the "down to his bone marrow" Texan who is eager to lead them in that direction. However, George W. Bush he isn't.
If Perry is the Republican nominee, what presidential debates those will be. The contrast could not be more stark. In one corner the whippet-thin, fastidious, ultra-urbane, somehow detached Siamese cat that is President Obama. Across from him the muscular, Marlboro man, Rottweiler that is Gov. Perry. Wow! The debate moderators will need striped shirts, whistles and yellow flags to throw during those debates.
Richard Land is president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Commission. A version of this column first appeared in USA Today.
ping-this should be fun!
Although I think Perry is about as good a candidate as we have, Land is an uber-weasel and part of the problem at the SBC.
I hope it’s true.
We don’t need any more Bushes, thank you very much.
I suppose by now it's a lost cause.
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If true, on all counts, sign me up.
wow... seriously it’s like reading an article I wrote about Perry vs Bush a few weeks ago here......
I’m not all that familiar with Land, although I thought he was considered a leader of the evangelicals.
This is all fine and good about the personal life and personal characteristics of Mr. Perry.
It provides no informed view of Perry’s own operating principles of government, our governments, no informed view of Perry policies or decisions as governor, and no informed view of potential Perry policies as POTUS.
It’s a nice puff piece but not much else.
Wow indeed! This was written or at least posted to the Baptist Press website on Sept. 14th. Maybe he got some ideas from you! :-)
Absolutely great article. He tells it like it is about Perry...helps non Texans to better understand Perry.
I’m not for or against Perry at this time. However, the climate has changed since George Bush, compliments of the Tea Party, and Perry will have real conservatives in his corner, whereas Bush was bogged down with RINOS.
“Perry also has a well-deserved reputation in Texas as being a less-forgiving political opponent than Bush. If you cross Perry, he will get even.”
The more I learn about Perry, the MORE I like him!
He’s great. He’s AMERICA!!!!!!
Perry in 2012!!!!!
I am not a George Bush fan, but one thing I will give him is that he is not corrupt, Perry, on the other hand ....
Great! Now. What was it he said? Oh yeah...”We must say to every Texas child learning in a Texas classroom, ‘we don’t care where you come from, but where you are going, and we are going to do everything we can to help you get there.’” he said. “And that vision must include the children of undocumented workers.
My only problem with Perry is, he is Mr. Dream Act.
Elect Rick Perry as your President because he’s not a fake Texan like George W. Bush??
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