Arguably, the most striking aspect of Gov. Rick Perry is the vast amount of Texas, political machismo that oozes from his GOP/Tea Party pores. He soared into the race for GOP nominee and continued to soar as he perched himself at the top of the pile; doing it so effortlessly that he almost made it look automatic. But as we all know from our sorted, political history, the past has an uncanny, gravitational way of pulling things back down to earth, and that has become the case for Perry due to the ruthless onslaught that comes along as part of the frontrunner package that so many of us live to attain.
Between Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann, Perry has seen his aura of Texas machismo gutted and damaged, with his poll numbers withering under the intense, magnifying heat that’s been aimed like a GOP laser at many of his political decisions that seem typical to the average electorate, but could be viewed as a treasonous betrayal by this new and improved, venomous, orthodox standard of Tea Party demands. And thanks, in large part, to Perry’s ideology, he has found it much more difficult to live up to these ironclad, Tea standards. The question that arises becomes a very intriguing one. Can a former, Democratic leopard ever truly change its spots? And based on Rick Perry’s performances and Michele Bachmann’s performances, another former Democrat, the answer to that question is yes and no; depending on the political adeptness of the leopard.
Amidst the deafening hoopla of the viral, GOP joy of possibly finding the one candidate who can undoubtedly make President Obama a one-term president, it’s easy to overlook or forget that Rick Perry is a former Democrat. One might not ever know judging by Perry’s larger-than-life political persona that he wears like a Texas, GOP badge to hunt down all that is liberal within the Texas boundaries, or so it seems! But regardless of how tough, how macho, or how conservative Perry tries to paint himself, a few of his former, Democratic spots have unintentionally seeped through to the surface of his conservative camouflage, while some of his other former, Democratic spots have been easily unearthed by his not-so-friendly-to-anything-Democratic competition.
Oddly enough, when watching the rickety performances of Perry in these Republican debates, it’s easy to wonder if Perry has been rocked into political shock that his competition would attack him in such a way, because he often appears to be totally unprepared for it, as if the Mitt Romney attacks, the Michele Bachmann attacks, the Ron Paul attacks, and the Rick Santorum attacks have blindsided him in the middle of the night, like he had just been caught with a liberal love interest wrapped tightly in his arms with his pants down! Everything is supposed to be bigger in Texas, and apparently that does not stop with political arrogance or political egos. If Rick Perry was actually gullible enough to believe that he was Mr. Untouchable because his “Don’t Mess With Texas” shield made him invincible to oncoming, political threats, then he is not former President Bush 43 on steroids, he is General George Armstrong Custer on steroids, and Herman “The consolation prize” Cain kicking his straw poll teeth down his Texas throat in Florida is a political microcosm of Little bighorn!
Perry should be ashamed of himself, because it takes a phenomenal amount of hard work to make Herman Cain politically relevant, but Perry’s frequent, self-inflicted shots in the foot seem to have done that almost overnight. Perry has inadvertently done what Cain’s entire staff has had no idea how to purposely do from the start, and Perry has no one else to blame but himself for allowing amateur hour at the pizza parlor to steal the Florida straw poll headlines, along with some of his political momentum. Perry’s fumbling and bungling can be theoretically linked to his not-so-distant, Democratic past; a past that he probably found easy to erase on the surface, but will be seriously more difficult to erase totally, and one needs only to look at the very issues that have hurt him the most at the hands of his vulture-like competition that has swooped down at will to pick these issue bones clean.
Issue number one would have to be Perry’s ode to Obamacare and Romneycare—his controversial, HPV vaccine issue. In case Perry hasn’t figured this out yet, his executive order/mandate that young females in Texas must be vaccinated against HPV (human papillomavirus) based on its ability to lead to cervical cancer is a page straight out of Obamacare, Romneycare, and most importantly the progressive, Democratic, big government ideology, and that did not go unnoticed by conservatives, who would normally argue for the states to act on such measures, but not this time. The same way that Ron Paul suggested that people should get out and ‘build their own levees,’ others like Michele Bachmann are basically suggesting that people should build and administer their personal vaccines as well. Otherwise, you’ll get the grandson of Romneycare which would be Perrycare! Superficially, it seems to be alright to mandate the right of a life that’s in the womb, but not the right of that life to be vaccinated once it’s out of the womb. Good luck on trying to navigate that one Mr. Perry!
The other questionable legislation that Perry has advocated is what he referred to as his big heart in regards to the plight of the children of illegal immigrants, as he oversaw legislation that allowed the offspring of illegal immigrants to receive financial aid to attend college in Texas. To Perry, this is his way of displaying his big, tolerant, diversified heart, as described by him during the Republican debates, and under any other circumstances this probably would not be that big of a deal. But during the vitriolic uncertainty of the President Obama era, big hearts and helping hands are met with the anti-liberal disgust and anti-government disdain of fear mongered, debt-ridden, America-is-in-decline socialism that groups like the Tea Party have used to their political advantage. By giving any aid at all to illegal immigrants, Perry has constructed a Tea Party, GOP, junior version of the ‘Dream Act,’ and that is a Democratic dog masquerading in a Republican collar, and it will not hunt in the conservative woods outside of Texas.
Anyone who knows anything about the Tea Party or the GOP knows beyond the shadow of a doubt that such things as: big hearts, helping hands, government aid, illegal immigrant tolerance, racial diversity, religious diversity, government mandates and not even the slightest tax hike on the rich are all staples of this current, conservative movement. And to paraphrase Perry’s favorite mentor George W. Bush: ‘you’re either with it, or you’re against it.’ Meaning, there is no room for a Republican leopard that is unable to de-spot itself politically from elements of its Democratic past.
Perry can stand on stage and continue to whine about how he wishes that he would have done things differently, but the spots of history cannot be erased with wishes. It’s hard to tell whether conservatives have lost more respect for Perry because he passed these democratically friendly legislations or because he is now forced to shamefully slink away from them as he begs for conservative asylum. So the next time some fast talking, political shyster peddling some once-in-a-political-lifetime covenant of greener, Republican grass offers Mr. Perry a party switching deal, maybe he should take some advice from the Nancy Reagan War on Drugs campaign of 1980’s, and ‘Just say no.’