Rick Perry almost won me over today when he expressed surprise at the reaction from some in the crowd at the tea party Republican debate last night who cheered about people in comas without insurance being left to die. But then I remembered that ya gotta dance with the one that brung ya. And Perry as much as anybody is responsible for stirring up tea party conservative extremism.
One thing you can say is that he is stubborn enough not to flip-flop on most things. He's sticking to his guns (I don't know if they're the blanks or laser-targeted ones) on the Ponzi nature of Social Security. The reason why he is wrong on this even if it makes libertarian sense (watch me do my Jedi lawyer tricks) is that it is not a Ponzi scheme because it is legal. Congress made it so. Of course it is not sustaining itself financially through payroll deductions. It didn't do so in the beginning either. It was only created that way as a "legal fiction" to help sell it politically at passage and continuing over the years so we would take responsibility for it - as President Reagan and Tip O'Neill did in the 1980s. It was fixed then and can be fixed now. All it takes is political will and responsibility. And if you want to challenge the constitutionality, I think the statute of limitations has run on that. Actually, there is no technical limitation on Constitutional Law except that the arc of history generally bends forward - unless, of course, you're entertaining the crowds at tea party events.
Perry also is continuing to defend his Texan version of the Dream Act which is an admirable thing both in the sticking to it and in the basic good of it. It is much better to assist children of immigrants here through no fault of their own to obtain an education and contribute to society rather than becoming an uneducated burden or as an enormous expense to be rounded up and deported in mass. Such a common sense and decent approach met by angry response of the crowd and the other pandering candidates reveals the absence of basic human compassion and common sense in that group.
Which leads me to Perry's other stumbling block, the executive order on HPV injections for young schoolgirls. He admits error in the way he did it without working it through the legislature, but he sticks to his point that the vaccinations were a good thing to prevent against the horrors of cervical cancer. And then he ends up having to defend science against the ugliness of Bachmannism.
Last night and doubling-down today, Michelle Bachmann is over the top on what she thinks is a Perry vulnerability. She probably thinks of it as the ideal mix of libertarian freedoms and her version of culture war morality by defending the little girls against big government intrusion relating to a sexually transmitted disease. Oh, the horror! Oh, the disgust! Oh, for the little girls!
Now arguably this is a difficult and controversial issue. And politically it might very well have been better for Governor Perry to get a legislative, broad-based political solution. The problem here, though, is the way Bachmann is raising it. She is playing to fears, and disgust, and sleazy, icky things rather than rationally and scientifically attempting to address a real problem. The proof of this is how she latched on to the story of the woman who supposedly had a child who became "mentally retarded" from the vaccination. This plays right into all the unfounded prejudices against inoculations in general that have been discredited by science. And this is the very same science that Perry has trouble with in regard to evidences of global warming and evolution.
But then, ya gotta dance with the one that brung ya!