Oh, Rick – I’ve waited so long for us to be together. We’ve waded through so many murky waters – Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, the surprisingly sane Jon Huntsman – it seemed like this day would never come. Unfortunately, like pork left out on the counter for a couple of days instead of refrigerated, or a Hollywood star whose years of boozing and debauchery have ruined his once golden looks, you’re kind of past your prime. First of all, it seems redundant to make fun of someone who has basically made himself a walking joke. Second of all, though it’s tempting to bring up your bizarre debate (and other) gaffes, gaffes that have lead to accusations that you are regularly drunk or high, or even to drag out the lurid gay rumors, there are actual serious issues regarding you as a candidate and a person that are worthy of discussion. So I’m going to try to be (mostly) serious:
Secession: this is an issue I have with Perry but also with his supporters. In reading about Perry’s comments on Texas seceding from the union, I’ve noticed that conservatives hasten to frame those statements as “jokes” taken out of context. Indeed, it doesn’t appear that Perry has ever seriously advocated secession (that I’ve found, anyway). But still…given the fact that Texas has already seceded from the Union once (um, how did that work out for them, I wonder?), and given that politician’s of Perry’s stripe generally expend a great deal of energy trying to prove that they are the most patriotic-est EVER, even “joking” about seceding seems like it should be a big deal. I still fail to understand the mindset of anyone who idealizes the Confederacy and yet claims to be an American patriot. If you’re a big believer in states’ rights, that’s fine. So were some of our founding fathers. But I think being a big supporter of states’ rights and being the biggest fan of the Union in all the land (you know, union, as in united, as in “The United States of America”?) are incompatible. Pick a side and stick with it. It’s like having a wife and a girlfriend and claiming to love them equally (insert applicable Newt Gingrich joke).
Capital punishment: Perry’s enthusiasm for killing the citizens of Texas has been unparalleled. So unparalleled that I have trouble finding up-to-date information on just how many executions he’s presided over; it’s at least 235, but for all I know he’s merrily vetoing stay requests as I type. We know that he doesn’t scruple over the execution of the mentally retarded (he vetoed a proposed Texas ban on mentally retarded inmates) or even the most likely innocent. When asked by NBC’s Brian Williams in a debate whether he ever struggled with the possibility of executing an innocent person, Perry replied:
“I’ve never struggled with that at all. The state of Texas has a very thoughtful, a very clear process in place of which — when someone commits the most heinous of crimes against our citizens, they get a fair hearing, they go through an appellate process, they go up to the Supreme Court of the United States, if that’s required.”
I guess Perry never got around to reading David Grann’s excellent 2009 piece in The New Yorker on Cameron Todd Willingham – it’s a long read, but well worthwhile. The fact of the matter is, when you are shoveling people onto Death Row and executing them at the rate that Texas does, mistakes are bound to happen. In the case of Willingham, Perry is accused of going so far as to impede an inquiry (started after Willingham’s execution) into mistakes that may have been made in the case.
So what Perry was really saying to Williams, apparently, is not that he believes everyone who was executed in Texas under his watch was guilty. What he’s saying is that he doesn’t care.
HPV vaccine: Perry surprised a lot of people in 2007 when he issued an executive order mandating that girls in Texas should be given the HPV vaccine as early as age 11, before sexual activity was likely to occur. HPV can lead to cervical cancer. On the other hand, Perry surprised no one when it turned out that his former chief of staff had gone to work as a lobbyist for the manufacturer of the vaccine, and it became clear that Perry’s newfound interest in the sexual health of women was really an old interest in political expediency and cronyism. It was only notable for being so blatant – the ultra-religious-conservative Perry was advocating something that was obviously going to turn all teenage girls into sex fiends (well, at least according to the religious conservatives that opposed Perry’s executive order).
All in all, it’s pretty clear that Perry is morally bankrupt, in addition to being not too bright, homophobic and possibly racist (remember the hunting-lodge rock brouhaha? It seems like ages ago, but that story only broke at the end of September). In a field crowded with candidates who seem determined to see who can be the most awful, Perry manages to be a strong contender for the title. At least he’s a contender for something; thank goodness he’s no longer a serious contender for president of the United States.
About the Author:
Jennie has contributed to Imperfect Women since its inception in 2009. She writes about politics, celebrity news, and anything else that catches her interest. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.