Please, no more new Texans

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By Rick Howell

    In 2000, I had a bumper sticker that said, “No New Texans,” a clear and simple repudiation of the presidential candidacy of George W. Bush.

It was also a sneer at the broken “No new taxes” pledge that Bush’s father had reneged on in the light of fiscal and economic reality. That compromise almost seems quaint now, doesn’t it? Given that most conservative Republicans would rather stomp their grandmothers than raise taxes.
    But some bad ideas die a long death….and now, lo and behold, we are again presented with the presidential candidacy of another Texas governor, one Rick Perry, the protégé of and successor to the tragic Bush son.
    Perry, a former Democrat who supported Al Gore for president in 1988, succeeded Bush when the U.S. Supreme Court awarded the White House to the man who lost the popular vote.
    Perry went on the have far more luck as governor than W. would ever have as president. Some like to rag Jimmy Carter as the worst president ever, but the facts don’t support it.
    Carter never started an unnecessary war, as Bush did in Iraq, and he never sustained an approval rating between 22 and 25 percent over nearly three years. W. easily wins the title of “Worst Ever.”
    Yet, with Perry’s candidacy, we are again pointed toward the state of Texas (a territory we stole from Mexico), as the solution to our great national concerns.
    Don’t buy into it. After LBJ, it has a lousy track record.
    Perry’s record is that of a very extremist, religious right fanatic from a Deep South state that prides itself on “state’s rights” nonsense and other such misguided zeal.
    Clearly, the mainstream media (supposedly “liberal”) has decided that Perry is far better copy than Mitt Romney. Apparently, the media can’t resist the macho, Texas swagger idiocy that prevented it from truly reporting George W. Bush’s record.
    Perry will campaign as “the great jobs creator,” but the truth is not as he would have you believe.
    Yes, there are plenty of good, well-paying jobs in Texas, due to the prominence of the oil and gas industry, which was there long before Perry.
    But there are also too many low-paying, retail jobs that keep people poor. Texas and Mississippi lead the nation in minimum-wage jobs. Is that the “Texas Miracle” the rest of the country wants?
    The state’s unemployment rate is 8.2 percent, just barely under the national average. It’s also a state with one of the highest rates of citizens who don’t even have a high school diploma.
    Texas has the fourth largest poverty rate in the nation. Almost a quarter of the population is without health insurance. But this doesn’t move Perry; he’s all about the “low taxes” in his state.
    Lower taxes mean fewer state services. Budget cuts mean layoffs of teachers and other public servants in Texas. That’s the reality Perry doesn’t mention.
    At a tea party rally in 2009, Perry said that he thought maybe “secession” might be a good idea for the states. What an ignorance of history; that question was settled at Appomattox in 1865.
    But here’s the bottom line for Republicans: Do you really want to nominate for president – after the failures of George W. Bush – another Texas governor? Especially one who is so reminiscent of the troubled legacy of his predecessor?
    Perry’s good coverage is about to give way to increased scrutiny of his real record. His recent state-sponsored prayer service was an obvious violation of the Constitutional doctrine of separation of church and state. It was clear that only “evangelical Christians” were invited.
    I was right in 2000: No new Texans, please. Not this one now, either.
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    Rick Howell, a Bedford native, can be reached by e-mail at NewCenHowell@aol.com.