Tag Archives: Rick Perry

Rick Perry’s Sudden Change of Heart is Business as Usual

Rick Perry presidential candidate on campaign ...
Rick Perry presidential candidate on campaign trail interacting with voters in Iowa. This is at the Iowa State Fair. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Rick Perry sought the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nomination, eliminating the US Department of Energy was part of his campaign platform. Granted, he had trouble remembering its name, but he wanted the department gone. Completely.

On January 19, Perry appeared before the US Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee, a first step toward his confirmation as Secretary of Energy in the coming Trump administration. How does he feel about the department these days? Well, somewhat differently:

“My past statements made over five years ago about abolishing the Department of Energy do not reflect my current thinking …. after being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination.”

As a cabinet official, Perry’s bailiwick will sprawl across all 50 states and the several US territories. He’ll dispose of a budget a fraction of the size that he controlled as governor of Texas (less than $30 billion versus more than $100 billion), but within his sphere of influence, he’ll actually wield more, and less contestable, power.

Is anyone surprised that Perry doesn’t want to eliminate a particular job now that it’s going to be HIS job? If so, you shouldn’t be. David Stockman told you all about that phenomenon 30 years ago.

US president Ronald Reagan appointed Stockman, a former Republican congressman from Michigan, to the post of Director of the Office of Management and Budget in 1981. He served in that post until 1985 before his candor and honesty got him in trouble and brought him to the point of resignation. Then he authored what, to my mind, remains the classic account of how power corrupts, The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed.

Most summaries of The Triumph of Politics emphasize Congress’s profligacy in running up huge deficits by increasing spending while cutting tax rates. But Stockman also takes a hard look at the executive branch, and not only from the angle of the president’s willingness to cooperate with Congress.

Each newly appointed Reagan cabinet secretary, swept into power on the promise to hack away at government root and branch, was happy to do so in every department. Except his own. “Yes, cut spending — everywhere but here. THIS department is indispensable and, by the way, under-funded.”

As the Perry saga demonstrates, thus shall it ever be. There may be a way to cut government down to size, but if so “electing the right people” probably isn’t it.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


And Then There Were 16: Perry Drops Out

Governor Rick Perry of Texas speaking at the R...
Governor Rick Perry of Texas speaking at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. Please attribute to Gage Skidmore if used elsewhere. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I am neither a Republican nor a Rick Perry fan. Nonetheless I find Perry’s decision to drop out of the GOP’s 2016 presidential nomination contest disheartening. Here’s why:

Like Perry or not, agree with him on the issues or not, he was arguably the single most experienced political executive in the race. He served three-and-a-half terms as governor of Texas, America’s second largest and second most populous state.

His executive experience arguably extended into foreign and trade policy more than that of most governors. Texas shares a long border with Mexico and boasts the busiest foreign-tonnage port in the US at Houston. And under Perry’s governorship, Texas did better than most states during the economic downturn on fronts like employment and family income.

Frankly, Perry was a dream candidate for Republicans who cared about executive ability, plausible policy proposals, and “getting things done.”

No, I wouldn’t have voted for him. I’m a political libertarian and a partisan Libertarian; he’s neither of those things.

But it boggles the mind that out of 17 “serious” candidates, Republicans chose to cut Perry from the pack first, panning him in polls and not funding his campaign. What’s going on here?

I wish I could report that Perry just isn’t libertarian enough for a Republican Party with a growing and powerful libertarian wing. But that’s not the problem. The GOP, after some flirtations with libertarianism during Ron Paul’s tenure in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail, has taken a hard turn back toward authoritarianism.

Perry’s problem seems to be that Republicans are looking for the flashiest demagogue they can find this election cycle.

Topping Perry for demagoguery on immigration was a tall order. After all, he’s the guy who deployed Texas’s National Guard to “secure the border” with Mexico. But he’s been, in a word, Trumped.

He’s the first, but won’t be the last, candidate to fall to the GOP’s sudden infatuation with flash over substance. Right now, the polls show Donald Trump way out front, with loose cannon Ben Carson in second place. Moving up fast: Carly Fiorina, whose only real qualification seems to be her gender (she was fired as CEO of Hewlett Packard, and her only real political experience consists of badly losing her race for US Senate from California).

The Democratic front-runners aren’t very attractive either. But they don’t really have to be. They’re set for a walkover unless the GOP gets its act together, which seems unlikely.

If you had high hopes for a real horse-race, you’re probably bummed out . But look at the bright side: Perhaps the Libertarian Party can take advantage of the major parties’ state of disarray and start a real discussion about America’s future.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.