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The case against Rick Perry for President

Like other Texans, I can get in the mood for a Texan to be in charge. After all, if God hadn’t intended for Texas to be the center of the universe, he wouldn’t have put us there. But with the (arguable) exception of Dwight Eisenhower, presidents with Texas roots haven’t exactly been nominated for sainthood after it’s all said and done.

The most recent example of the species,George W. Bush, even prompted my friend Molly Ivins to declare, “The next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be President of the United States, please pay attention.”

It’s time to pay attention. Here comes Rick Perry.

If Perry hadn’t thought about running for president before, he’d be a fool not to think about it now, as the stable of Republican alternatives is full of lame horses. But the case against him doesn’t lie in comparing him to the rest of the Republican field; it’s in examining the flip side of his own coin.

Most Perry fans can be categorized in one of two camps. The first are ultra-conservatives of some ilk — either traditional evangelical, Christian-right voters or voters loosely associated with Tea Party values. They love their anti-Obama red meat, and they don’t like Washington. They’re attracted to Perry because nobody’s better than him at kicking Washington in the collective butt, and nobody does anti-Obama red meat better than gun-totin’, coyote-shootin’, states’ rights-toutin’ Rick Perry.

But where’s the net gain? If those voters aren’t united next November, we’re having this friendly little conversation for nothing anyway, because Obama will be re-elected in a landslide no matter who runs against him. “Not Obama” will be their candidate of choice, whether the alternative is Perry or somebody else.

The second pro-Perry camp consists of those voting their economic interests, and at first blush Perry might seem attractive. Texas, as the story goes, has led the nation in job creation, and as the story continues, it’s because Texas government is limited, pro-business and fosters economic development. While it’s true that Texas has, indeed, created new jobs, it’s equally true that they’re relatively low-wage and that the state’s recent unemployment rates are also higher than they’ve been since the early 1990s.

The problem for Perry, in the blinding light of the national stage, is that he may ultimately be seen as the swaggering rooster who believes the sun came up because of all that crowing. Texas was a conservative, small government, pro-business state long before he was in charge, and Texas will remain so long after he’s gone. Americans may conclude that Texas jobs would have materialized whether Perry was governor or not, and it might just be to Texas business’ credit, not Perry’s, that they did.

While Perry’s supporters will explain what he’s done for Texans, detractors will cite what Perry hasn’t done. Those celebrating him as the architect of our low-tax state would be forced to acknowledge that this is nothing new, and that Texas is also an extreme low-services state, with serious consequences for Texas families.

Education? We’re 50th in the nation in kids with a high school diploma by age 25, and 43rd in high school graduation rates. We’re 42nd in the nation in high school graduates going to college, and of those, only half earn a degree within six years.

Health care? We’re first in the nation in folks without health insurance and 49th in our low-income population covered by Medicaid.

Relative wealth? We’re fourth in the nation on the percentage of our residents living below the poverty line.

The environment? We’re first in the nation in cancer-causing carcinogens released into the air, first on toxic chemicals released into the water and first in the amount of hazardous waste generated.

I could go on, but the Legislative Study Group already has, and Perry and other Republicans in charge in Texas are currently wrapping up legislative work in which their policy priorities will assure that those measures worsen.

Bush already took Americans down a near-identical “Texas success story” yellow brick road. Would voters like Perry’s America any better, after Bush left on such unpopular terms?

Electoral performance might lead others to believe that Perry would be the best standard-bearer to oppose Obama. Unlike Bush, Perry’s never lost an election, and he recently won a primary election in which he turned a 20-plus-percentage-point deficit into a 20-point win. But does what sells here sell everywhere? Since Texas has voted for the prevailing candidate in only two of the last five presidential elections, that is a dicey position at best.

But back to Molly Ivins. Three months before she died, writing on Perry’s performance at a political debate, she reported that he had really good hair, and that the Democrat in the race had everything else. She concluded that “Perry won on the politics of it by not actually saying anything totally idiotic.”

That, my friends, is usually how a Republican wins an election in Texas — by not being the Democrat. It’s a mighty thin resume for a fat presidential race.

[this column originally appeared in the Texas Tribune]

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Buzz from the TV show – Doggett in the crosshairs

On this week’s episode of Capital Tonight on YNN, the conversation turned to Congressional redistricting, and specifically to the effects of the new Republican map to Central Texas and Congressman Lloyd Doggett.

It’s your turn: let me know what you think in the comments section. Meanwhile, the entire episode, which also features an extended interview with Senator Wendy Davis, will air in Austin this Sunday morning at 11 am on YNN, or you can go here to watch it online.

Update: Even if you have no comment, I encourage you to visit the comments section, if for no other reason than to not miss Whiskeydent’s song lyrics.

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Buzz from the TV show – Perry’s Presidential aspirations get real

On last night’s edition of “Capital Tonight” on YNN, the conversation naturally turned to analysis on Governor Rick Perry’s odds of running for President. Here’s part of the conversation with YNN’s Paul Brown with Republican colleague Ted Delisi.

Leave me a comment on your thoughts…will Perry run? If so, will Republican voters nominate him? If not, why not?

This week’s episode also features two of my favorite Capitol people – Republican Senator Bob Deuell, and Democratic Senator Leticia Van de Putte. You can watch the entire special one-hour episode here, and the show will air on Austin TV on Sunday morning at 11 am on YNN.

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Buzz from the TV show – Rick Perry Presidential distraction?

On last night’s “Capital Tonight,” both Ted Delisi and I were asked about the resurgence of talk about Rick Perry running for President. Of the country. This country. Yeah, me too.

Anyway, here was my answer.

Let me know your thoughts in the comment section. In addition to serious discussion about General Sanchez, last week’s input seemed to turn into a referendum on my tie, sadly. Hopefully I did better this time.

Here’s where you can watch the entire show on YNN’s website, which I hope you do. It’s really a good show, despite the fact that I’m on it.

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Buzz from the TV show – General Ricardo Sanchez

Funny thing happened on the TV show on YNN last Thursday night. I was asked a question about General Ricardo Sanchez considering a run for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat in 2012. I answered the question, and moved on.

But after leaving the studio and switching my phone off silent mode, I found many (as in, more than ten) text messages from random friends and acquaintances, every one of whom had a positive reaction to my answer to that question. I’ve never gotten a response like that from anything ever discussed on any episode of the show all session long, so I was a bit surprised.

So,  let’s have an open discussion in the comments section. Do you agree with my answer? Do you think I was too hard on General Sanchez? Let me know that too, I’d love to hear your views. And if you are General Sanchez, I’m guessing YNN would love to have you as a guest on the show.

You can watch the entire episode here, as well as all past episodes. Capital Tonight airs live on Thursdays at 6 pm on YNN, if you’re in the Austin area. We do get into all sorts of interesting stuff, so give it a try!

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Further evidence that CNN has gone to hell in a hand basket

Well, this is cool.
Recently, I was honored, and intimidated, to have been included in a SXSWi event at the Austin Music Hall, sponsored by Ignite Austin. The focus of the Ignite event was what the world would look like by 2021, and about 16 speakers gave their views on whatever their field of expertise is.
They had invited me to talk about the political communications. And while it was a demanding event with a very challenging format, I never knew until today that it was covered by CNN.

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Pop quiz

Which one of my quotes from this Salon.com article wouldn’t have made it into a family newspaper?

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Q. How many Texans with political satire blogs were quoted in today’s New York Times?

A. One.

Here’s a big shout-out to journalist Morgan Smith, who figured out how to get an all-expenses paid trip to Big Bend knows a good story when she sees one.

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I’m big in Siberia

This was a new one for me – instead of being interviewed remotely via satellite uplink, simply open the MacBook Pro and fire up Skype. While a bit disorienting because I hadn’t experienced it before, I managed to muddle through an interview with international news network RT.com – Russia Today – on the issue of the criminal justice system in America and Texas.

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Desperate cries for help: FUBAR in the news

Despite popular demand, your faithful correspondent has been an attention whore in the news lately.

First, the Texas Tribune‘s Reeve Hamilton did a wrap-up piece of the Democratic State Convention goings-on in Corpus Christi recently. Key quote:

“Rick Perry complaining about an opponent’s negative tone is like a rooster complaining that all the crowing is making too much noise.”

Also in the Trib recently was a story about political spending among members of Congress, in which the Trib‘s Ross Ramsey and Matt Stiles, with my full cooperation, boldly and courageously break the s-word barrier in mainstream news media. Clearly, this significantly adds to the superior quality of political discourse in America, and proves once and for all that, indeed, the pen is mightier than the s-word. Key quote:

“…the majority isn’t just ‘a thing’ in Congress, it’s the only thing. If you’re in the minority, you ain’t sh*t.”

In yet more Tribune news, Ramsey and Stiles pen a story about campaign finance deadlines. Key quote:

“Money isn’t everything, but not having money isn’t anything.”

The Houston Chronicle‘s lovely and talented R.G. Ratcliffe recently penned a story about those pesky low budget viral videos lampooning candidates, in which he mentioned one such effort which first appeared on this blog. Here’s R.G.’s story, and here’s the video.

Meanwhile, News8Austin reporter Karina Kling filed this story yesterday on the continuing saga of the Green Party ballot access funding scandal:

National Public Radio‘s David Folkenflik interviewed me, among others, on All Things Considered today. In a resounding and inspirational show of good will and bipartisanship, Republican Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and I joined together in demonstrating our heartfelt, mutual, and continuing annoyance with PolitiFact Texas. Here’s the audio:

The PolitiFact Texas issue is not a new topic of discussion on this blog. Just sayin’.

And speaking of PolitiFact, The Austin Chronicle recently wrote about a so-called “feud” between Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg and yours truly over the PolitiFarce thing, about which Kronberg and I have been chuckling ever since. It’s interesting the extent to which it never crossed the minds of some people in and around politics that Kronberg and I were just having a little fun teasing each other.

You sticks-in-the-mud do remember fun, don’t you? Good thing Kronberg and I do. Right Harvey? Harvey? Hello? Is this mic on?

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Desperate cries for help: FUBAR in the news

Flanked by two really really pasty-white “get off my lawn”-style guys, Kay Bailey Hutchison finally admitted yesterday during a 12-second media availability in San Antonio that she’s staying in the U.S. Senate until the end of her term.

Hutchison said she hadn’t anticipated the swiftness of changes in the country, adding to the quickly-growing list of things this year Hutchison hadn’t anticipated. After her prepared remarks, she made herself available to reporters to answer each and every question she felt qualified to answer.

News8Austin, the only broadcast news organization remaining in the known universe which still doesn’t allow others to embed their video despite a recent website re-design, interviewed me in their analysis piece on Hutchison’s decision.

Reacting swiftly to the Hutchison announcement, State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) appeared at a hastily-called press conference to announce that he will also stay in his elected office.

Quickly sensing this new political trend, an estimated 1,294 additional officeholders in Texas, including legislators, mayors, county commissioners, sheriffs, and 3 dog catchers, have all scheduled news conferences today, to announce their similar plans to continue doing nothing different than they’ve been doing.

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Desperate cries for help – FUBAR in the news

Reacting to the stunning news from the Farouk Shami campaign that another candidate’s mere mention that the candidate is from San Antonio is racist, I was a guest on Scott Braddock’s KLRD radio show in Dallas earlier this afternoon.

Here’s the podcast of the segment. Good luck making any more sense of that situation than I did.

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FUBAR in the News (AKA “desperate cries for help”)

A conversation with Texas Tribune Managing Editor Ross Ramsey before the Thanksgiving break resulted in him asked me to write an opinion piece for them, which appears in the Trib today. Jump over to read it, then jump back and let me know what you think.

Speaking of el Tribune de Tejas, Reeve Hamilton wrote a piece last week on the importance, or lack thereof, of candidate endorsements. I was included in the article, and everybody Reeve interviewed agreed that endorsements don’t mean squat. We all then returned to desperately trying to get more endorsements for our favorite candidates.

Meanwhile, on Sunday I appeared on “Inside Texas Politics” on WFAA-TV in Dallas. Here’s the tape of the show, which opens with a very good interview with Mayor Bill White. Fast forward down to the -6:35 mark for the beginning of the segment in which I appear.

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FUBloopers in the News

Somebody who dishes it out to others as often as I do should be able to take a shot every once in a while, and here’s a pretty good one.

While at News8Austin earlier today taping an interview for later broadcast, I suddenly broke into an unexpected coughing fit (of greater duration than this re-mix suggests, actually). After heavily doctoring the out-take, the so-called “paid professionals” in the newsroom sent me this video.
Thanks to political reporter Karina Kling and photographer John Pope for being much more professional than I am. But then again, who isn’t?

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FUBAR in the News (AKA “desperate cries for help”)

I’ve been out of town, but on my way out the door last Thursday I was interviewed by Statesman Capitol Bureau Chief Jason Embry about the emergence of a new candidate for Texas Governor. Let’s just say I was less than completely impressed.

“I would love to live in a state where the sort of issues he’s going to face don’t matter. But we don’t live in that state.”

On my way back into town yesterday, I was asked by News8Austin’s lovely and talented Karina Kling to stop by their studio to discuss the emergence of a new candidate for Texas Governor. Let’s just say I was impressed.  However, as a result of the following video segment, I fully expect to receive a strongly-worded letter of protest from the U.S. Association of Mule Renters.

After the extended interview, we took a field trip outside for a separate story on same topic, which is here.

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