Rick Perry and the Politics of Whatever It Takes

Mark Warren’s profile of Texas Gov. Rick Perry is a pretty scary read. Here is how Perry is dealing with the drought in Texas, which has lasted for a year now.

All the trees are parched, and a bunch of them are on fire. And so as a 21st century man, the governor, Rick Perry, did the only reasonable thing recently and had a resolution passed through the legislature asking for all of his fellow Texans — Mooslims and everybody — to pray for rain:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, RICK PERRY, Governor of Texas, under the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Statutes of the State of Texas, do hereby proclaim the three-day period from Friday, April 22, 2011, to Sunday, April 24, 2011, as Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas. I urge Texans of all faiths and traditions to offer prayers on that day for the healing of our land, the rebuilding of our communities and the restoration of our normal way of life.

After heated debate on the House floor, the resolution passed. A late amendment, which also would have had Texans “baying at the moon,” in an effort to “show God we’re serious,” was narrowly defeated.

The full resolution is here.

Then there is the huge public Christian prayer rally scheduled for August, in Houston, to which Perry has invited “all U.S. governors and Christian leaders.”

Organizers of The Response expect thousands to gather on August 6 at Reliant Stadium for the daylong prayer and fasting event.

“Right now, America is in crisis: we have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters. As a nation, we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy,” Perry states on the event’s website.

“Some problems are beyond our power to solve, and according to the Book of Joel, Chapter 2, this historic hour demands a historic response,” the Texas governor’s invitation letter continues.

“There is hope for America. It lies in heaven, and we will find it on our knees.”

Terrorism is “beyond our power to solve?” Awesome to hear. Let’s bring back every last man and woman serving in Afghanistan, right away.

Financial debt is “beyond our power to solve”? Is this the same Rick Perry who brought Texas’s budget deficit almost to zero with $555 million in federal stimulus funds — after threatening to take Texas out of the union because he was so offended and outraged by the stimulus?

One of the groups Perry is working with on this Christian prayer rally is the American Family Association. Tim Murphy wrote about the AFA and its issues director, Brian Fischer, in Mother Jones a few days ago:

Fischer, as we’ve previously noted, has used his radio show, Focal Point, and column to articulate a fiercely anti-gay agenda; he’s called gays “Nazis” and advocated for the criminalization of homosexuality. (He shares the same disdain, incidentally, for grizzly bears and killer whales.) It’s a pretty comprehensive report. Here’s a sample:

Fischer’s roots in anti-gay bigotry go back to his days as head of the Idaho Values Alliance, when he promoted Scott Lively, the former head of AFA’s California chapter. Lively’s book, The Pink Swastika, blames gays for the rise of fascism and the Holocaust.

On Focal Point, Fischer not only defends Lively, but espouses the view that gays were responsible for the Nazi Party and the Holocaust. According to Fischer:

“Hitler recruited around him homosexuals to make up his stormtroopers, they were his enforces, they were his thugs, and Hitler discovered that he could not get straight soldiers to be savage, and brutal, and vicious enough to carryout his orders, but that homosexual soldiers basically had no limits in the savagery and brutality they were willing to inflict on whoever Hitler sent them after. So he surrounded himself, virtually all of the stormtroopers, the brownshirts, were male homosexuals.”

Here is more Bryan Fischer, via Twitter.

Getting back to Mark Warren’s Esquire piece, he makes an important point about all this religiosity. Perry doesn’t really believe that prayer can fix the financial crisis or end terrorism — or even stop tornadoes. Perry is a born-again Republican, and this religion-as-entertainment-extravaganza is his way of signaling an anti-government stance to the far right religious fanatics who would like to replace constitutional democracy with a Christian theocracy.

… don’t think for a minute that Rick Perry believes that prayer circles are actually the answer to our problems. He’s cynical that way. And those who are just now paying attention to Perry for the first time might not easily spot this subtlety. Like a lot of party-switchers in Texas, Perry likes to traffic in the line that he didn’t leave the Democratic party — the Democratic party left him. This, of course, is nonsense, and no thinking person, regardless of politics, ought to be fooled by it. Because like a lot of party switchers, Rick Perry was once what he is not now. That is, he once believed in government. Not to say that he was a liberal, but not an anti-government zealot, either. His daddy was a Democratic County Commissioner from up in Haskell County, north of Abilene, and Perry himself was a Democratic member of the legislature, who in 1988 was chairman of Al Gore’s presidential effort in Texas. The very next year Karl Rove persuaded Perry to switch parties, and run for state agriculture commissioner against Democrat Jim Hightower, and Perry was on his way. According to a 2003 profile in Texas Monthly, “Perry, who was discouraged by his failure to advance in the House leadership and thinking of becoming a lobbyist, had nothing to lose.”

There you have it: It’s the politics of whatever it takes.

1 Comment

Filed under Politics, Religion, Society

One response to “Rick Perry and the Politics of Whatever It Takes

  1. CherylP.

    Rick Perry steals Reagan’s line about the Democratic Party leaving him. He is one odd individual!

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