Saturday, August 27, 2011

Rick Perry, Gunnin' fer Libruhls!

Well, to be fair, he may have been shooting blanks at the "rain gods" with a
little Texan, anti-drought humor  ("Har-de-har!" and "Yippee, Kiy-oh!")
Due to Governor Perry's rise to the top in the polls, I thought I'd better check him out a bit. My first reaction is that he seems an awful lot like a recent president except that Perry appears to be a "real" Texan and no poser. And I'm not sure that's necessarily a good thing.

All my initial reactions were negative, so I was really trying to find something to like about him. Then I ran into that 800-pound gorilla, again.

A lot of potential presidential candidates write books to introduce themselves to the voting public and begin to build interest or even a political base. Obama's Dreams from my Father was a little early for this, but I also read his The Audacity of Hope when I decided to support him so I would know what he stood for. I liked what I read. Still do.

Perry wrote a book a few years ago. While it's not clear that it was for this presidential ambition purpose, it was while he was serving as Governor of Texas, so he was clearly on the national stage. And it has a clear political agenda even if it was about the Boy Scouts. (groan.) The book is On My Honor: Why the Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting for.  

I proudly acknowledge my status as an Eagle Scout. I am also currently registered as an adult leader. And I have had a life-time of experience with the Scouts that I think is just as valid as Governor Perry's. I do not presume in any way to speak on behalf of the BSA as an organization. I only speak from my personal perspective. I also acknowledge that while I respect the values of the Scouts as set out in the Scout Oath and Scout Law, I have experienced frustration at times, when we fail to live up to those standards, as seems to be the common human predicament. But we just have to keep trying. And that's OK by me.

Oh, and I haven't read all of Perry's book. But I did read his full introduction where he directly sets out his philosophy and purpose. And I don't intend to read the whole book. (It's sort of like I don't need to hang around bars for long to confirm my convictions not to drink.) His intro conveys the Governor's clearly expressed view of the culture wars:
It’s called the culture war today, but when it began in the 1960s and ‘70s, it didn’t have a name. Student campus unrest, rejection of authority, the “self-esteem” movement, moral relativism, and the demands of secularists all gradually fused into a series of attacks on American institutions.
It’s not that the public didn’t have a right to be “skeptical” about institutions such as the government (after all, President Nixon, in the Watergate affairs [sic], damaged public trust in the presidency), but the counterculture movement seemed to move beyond a healthy skepticism to a poisonous form of cynicism. Instead of reforming the institution of government, some advocated simply “tuning out” and turning to the carnage of mind-altering addiction.
Perry, On My Honor: Why the Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting for, (Stroud & Hall, Macon, Georgia, 2008) p. 10.

Notice anything interesting about that description? While it's commendable that he recognized some of Nixon's problems, there seems to be significant issues of the 60s and 70s left out. There may be a couple of 1200 pound gorillas in Governor Perry's living room. I suppose history is always subject to debate, but as I recall, the two principle motivators of civil unrest in the 60s were the Civil Rights and Anti-War movements. The Governor is pretty disingenuous (for a real Texan) setting up his straw men suggesting our problems are the result of drug-addled hippies promoting moral relativism and free love. In fact, while never a drug-head myself, I  find the depiction of "the carnage of mind-altering addiction" rather offensive when he ignores things like the bombing of little black girls at church, the assassination of MLK, Jr., real "carnage" in Viet Nam, etc.

My take on the culture wars is known. And I find it most offensive to turn it all into some kind of sexual purity or drug test for political purposes.

The only positive spin I can put on this is that there is such a variety of right-wingers for that side to choose from in the Republican race. And it puts a real interesting challenge to Utah conservatives as there is not one single choice and some tend to cancel others that may require some thought. And who knows what could happen when people really think about this stuff? I mean, do Mormon conservatives support Romney against all comers because he is "one of us." He seems more "orthodox" LDS than Huntsman, so maybe that's "OK." But he is still not the most conservative candidate out there. ( Huntsman, truly and intentionally is not, though still very conservative by traditional standards). If one is true to the tea party or even Skousenite-Beckian dogma wouldn't that lead one to Bachmann or Perry? But then there is that nagging Christian fundamentalism they have that tends to attack someone like Romney because his religion is not considered "Christian." And then for the true Libertarian believers, there's still Ron Paul. Maybe the more they think, they might just possibly come to some really radical thoughts tending towards moderation and the Democratic party like what happened to me during my college years at that bastion of liberalism (irony intended), Brigham Young University.

With further regard to the culture wars, I have little respect for those who fail to recognize that as bad as some things may be in the world, there is much to encourage us as well. We've moved a ways beyond enslaving entire races, civil rights have progressed beyond de jure and most de facto segregation, the horrors of fascist and communist dictatorial regimes were severally diminished in the last century, and even now, there is a basis for hope in the Arab Spring going into Fall switching from African and Middle Eastern dictatorships to more democratic opportunities. Even in the more difficult areas of the sexual moralities, for all the "self-indulgent" expression, there is also better attention to mental health and prevention of the abuse of children and spouses--some of the old "norms" formerly swept under the carpet and locked in closets under "traditional American values" that failed to acknowledge certain "unpleasant" things.

There is still Hope. I'll keep giving him a good look, but I don't think Governor Perry provides much.


  1. There were blanks in the pictured gun, but he loads the laser-sighted pistol he takes jogging with hallow points. As far as I know he's only shot the one coyote, but I have a hard time getting behind an armed jogger.

  2. Perry comes across to me as Bush.2; but he's a lot more dangerous because he has more of a religious fervor to him than W did. Perry really believes God wants him to be President. I personally can't support someone who ever advocated secession ...

  3. Regan- Thanks for reminding of the coyote stories. I think it would be getting "in front" of an armed jogger that could be scary (heh, heh). Ya know, come to think of it, I used to run in Albuquerque and saw coyotes now and then. ("Running with Coyotes" could be my Indian name.) It never crossed my mind to shoot them. My brain must work a little differently than the good Governor's.

    And Phil, yeah, when I hear his voice on TV and I'm not looking, I think it might be W. I can't believe that we could possible elect someone who is MORE W than W, but stranger things have happened. He got the Texan history thing wrong, it's not that the enabling act said they could secede, it said they could form more than one state.

  4. I am all for returning to a world where the rich raid the public coffers, old college friends are put in charge of disaster relief, and Social Security and Medicare, both insurance policies paid for by people who use them, are considered "entitlements" that we should consider tax dollars instead of separate funds. Who's with me? Raise your flags and your bibles and remember; God is watching you.
    Rod Norman, a conservative liberal Christian American.


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