Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Rick Perry: Theocrat or Partisan Hack?

On Sunday, Texas Governor Rick Perry, signed an abortion bill into law at a church school. Given my interest in Texas politics, some have questioned why I didn’t immediately comment on this. Well, 1) it no longer surprises me when certain Republicans explicitly link their party and policies to socially conservative Christianity. And 2) it’s one of those acts so profoundly ridiculous that it takes a few days to sink in.

Let me recap. The Governor of Texas signed a bill into law at a church. Forget what bill it was, that doesn’t matter. What’s important is that he created law at a church. Could you imagine what would happen if a Muslim politician in America signed a bill into law at a Mosque?

Why would Perry do this? Is he trying to send a message that a specific kind of Christian evangelicalism should be the source of our law? Is he saying that the state of Texas now gives deference to one religious sect over all others? Or is he just such a partisan hack that he saw the event as a great way to mobilize his base and didn’t even consider the broad implications of his actions.

My guess is that Perry is a partisan hack. And that’s exactly why Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is likely to run against Perry in the Republican gubernatorial primary. I can only hope she will. It’s time we Texans got ourselves a better governor.

For another great take, check out The Moderate Republican.


At 11:03 AM, Blogger emilie said...

Although I personally disagree with Gov. Perry's action, I have a gander as to why he did that:

He honestly believes that law stems from the morality he has derived from the Bible and his own Christianity.

It's hard for me to be one of those people who disagrees with, yet understands why, people like Gov. Perry do the things they do. How do you convince someone who really believes what they're doing is right (no pun intended), that they're actually wrong? (or, atleast, what they're doing is not acceptable in a modern democracy?)

I could care less about labelling him a theocrat or a political hack. Rather, the answer to the question above is always on the forefront of my mind when considering this stuff.

ps-I was directed to your blog via Randy's. So far, me likes:)

At 11:14 AM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...


glad you like!

And you might be right about Perry. He just doesn't understand why a church is an entirely inappropriate setting in which to sign a bill. Maybe he's a theo-hack?

At 11:56 AM, Blogger Heiuan said...

I don't care why Perry chose to sign that law on church property. It was unseemly and he should never have done it.

As to how you convince someone...well, how about telling him that not everyone believes his way and that it is distasteful for many folks for him to pander to his religion while performing a secular, not religious, task.

If he goes to church to pray and commune on a holy day, more power to him. He's going as a private citizen who has that absolute right.

If he's going to perform a constitutionally secular government task, then he needs to stay on secular government property.

Just my $.02.

At 4:03 PM, Blogger emilie said...

I think your $.02 might actually be's priceless, really!

At 4:06 PM, Blogger AubreyJ said...

To me this had to be nothing more than a stick in the eye to all of those religious-liberty watchdog groups in Washington DC. (It was most likely meant to be just that too.) Yep… Just a tad-bit close to crossing the line on Religion and Government was he but just within the laws of Texas and this good old USA of ours... I for one say good job Gov.

At 6:28 PM, Blogger KMSweet said...

While he is technically within the Texas and Federal laws regarding seperation of church and state, I think that it reflects a level of bad taste that is unfortuantely becomming more prevalent in US politics.

Look at what the Govenor did from a basic level: He signed a piece of legislation in a church, effectively using evangelical Christianity as a backdrop for the law. It is painfully obvious that he did not do this for any other reason than for political gain. One has to wonder how many times politicians will exploit religion for their own political gain.

What would happen if a Muslim or a Jewish politician signed a bill into law in their respective religious sanctuaries? Sadly, I think that the American public will only react to this blurring of the seperation of church and state when it is too late.

At 9:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was not some personal decision by Perry out of ignorance or religious piety or even partisan hackery. Remember, the guy is about to go into a reelection campaign that'll cost him tens of millions of dollars. Every event like this is proposed, vetted by a team of political advisors, weighed for its political impact and then decided upon - with Perry either approving or disapproving a reccomendation from consultants. It's not like he said, "Hey guys, let's do this at a church." In other words, the Perry team's analysis was that while this action would result in negative fallout from the general populace, it would also serve to rally the extreme right. He needs that group of people to remain actively in his corner for what will be a bruising primary fight with Kay Hutchison. The calculus is that the March 2006 primary IS the election for Governor, as Texas Democrats are not likely to field a general election opponent who has a shot in hell. Kay will get moderate voters and, I strongly suspect, many moderate democratic leaning women will crossover and vote for her in the March primary so it is absolutely essential that Perry bend over backwards for the right wing. In short, this was perfectly smart move on his part, politically. The fact that it was disgusting, immoral, bigoted and wholly inappropriate is entirely immaterial. Sad but true.

At 5:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

but did you see this??

Texas Governor Tells Gay Veterans to Move
Today at 2:00 AM
by Ross von Metzke

Austin, TX - Just days after signing a new amendment banning same-sex marriage in the state of Texas, Governor Rick Perry insinuated that the state's lesbian, gay and bisexual war veterans should move out of the state if they are unhappy.

During a news conference held in a Fort Worth church, Perry was asked what he would tell Texas gay and lesbian war veterans returning home from war about the law.

Gov. Perry responded, according to the Fort Worth Star Telegram, by saying that “Texans made a decision about marriage and if there's a state that has more lenient views than Texas, then maybe that's a better place for them to live.”

Wednesday, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) teamed with the Lesbian and Gay Rights Lobby of Texas to formally request an apology from the Governor.

"More than 66,000 lesbian and gay veterans make their home in Texas," said Sharra E. Greer, SLDN's director of law and policy. "Their service has defended the freedom of every Texan, including Governor Perry. The Governor's remarks dishonor their service and he should immediately apologize. We should be thanking these brave men and women, not asking them to leave."

Colonel Paul W. Dodd, a retired Army Chaplain and SLDN honorary board member who now lives in Texas, also called on Gov. Perry to apologize.

"Gays and lesbians have defended our country since the American Revolution," Dodd said. "Governor Perry's remarks were outrageous and offensive and do not reflect the views of fair-minded Texans who value the service of our men and women in uniform.“

Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) supported the efforts of both organizations, telling United Press International, “We... (cannot be) falling victim to the idea we have throwaways in our society, that Americans willing to serve can be thrown away. We are losing some of America's best and brightest talents.”

For more information on SLDN, visit For more information on the Lesbian and Gay Rights Lobby of Texas, visit

Copyright 2005, All Rights Reserved

At 8:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saw it. Evil. Indefensible. And the message was sent intentionally. A few things to remember:

* The Rick Perry is gay rumor that floated last year shook some people on the right and while most discounted it there is genuine fear that some of the base either believes it or is worried about it (because, over there, that is disqualifying).

*The people offended by this latest expression of officially sanctioned bigotry wouldn't vote for Perry ever for any reason - so they don't matter.

*You say, "yes, but don't those kind of comments fire up his opposition?" Yes, but not in sufficient numbers and he'll tone this rhetoric down after the primary with a cooperative press that'll forget he ever used it.

*The next step is to characterize KBH as gay-friendly. It's sad, but, again, in the GOP primary that is a big negative. Watch it happen, either in direct mail or through surrogates.

*Perry probably does genuinely feel this (self?)-hatred so it's an easy tactic to employ for him - but that's still all it is, a tactic and potentially a winning one.

*Remember, the Republicans have convinced their base that, despite controlling all of the levers of government in the state and in the nation, THEY ARE VICTIMS and they must hate those who victimize them. It's the way to win and it'll work in 2006.

At 3:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

perry's an idiot. so is bush. are they related?

At 3:27 PM, Blogger Katy said...

as to Perry passing a bill at a church: He made it clear he did not care how those people felt that he was there. He actually said that they (church members) would be mad no matter where he signed this bill. So apparently he cares not about the people, but only his political gain. are he and Bush related?

At 3:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How hard could it be?

At 4:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

*Remember, the Republicans have convinced their base that, despite controlling all of the levers of government in the state and in the nation, THEY ARE VICTIMS and they must hate those who victimize them. It's the way to win and it'll work in 2006.

geez..what are you..a nazi? oh my're a republican

At 9:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, I'm a Democrat who is simply assessing their tactics and assuredly not suggesting Democrats adopt them. The point is, these people have figured out - as many others in history have - that fear and ignorance are much more useful tactics than hope and education. To simply dismiss the Governor by saying "Rick Perry is an idiot," is a mistake. While it's likely true, it ignores the fact that he is advised and supported by a cadre of very smart morally bankrupt people who know how to win elections and know how to persuade people that even though every action their Republican government undertakes is designed to second their interests to the interests of a narrow corporate class, they must still vote for Republicans to protect themselves from the evils that their government and a compliant media inform them are around every corner.

At 10:39 AM, Blogger Laurent said...

I completly agree with anonymous. The tactics used by the "cadre of very smart morally bankrupt people who know how to win elections and know how to persuade people" have been extremely successful in large part be playing to the basest of human emotions: Fear. Whether it is fear of the unknownk, fear of those different, fear of dissolution of a certain ideal society, or just plain fear. Either way, this fear leads to anger and that anger is a powerful emotion which is easily manipulated.

At 10:40 AM, Blogger Laurent said...

Yoda put it best: "Fear leads to Anger. Anger leads to the Dark Side!"

At 5:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm happy perry is cutting his own throat. It gives Kinky Friedman, a true texan, and for the people, a better chance. He cares, unlike perry.


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