What's Up With the Governor of Texas?

Texas politics has long been a source of great amusement for the
people of our state, but it's often a source of bafflement for people
beyond our borders. So, sometimes there's a need to explain what's
going on here, and this is one of those times. In this case, the
explanation is simple: Our governor is a goober.

Texans have known this for some time, but Rick Perry - whose chief
claim to fame had been that he has a spectacular head of hair - was
unknown outside the state, so he was our little secret. Now, however,
Perry's gooberness has gone viral. He's a YouTube phenomenon and a new
darling of the GOP kingmaker, Rush Limbaugh.

He broke into national consciousness on April 15, when he spoke at
one of the many "teabag" rallies that Republican operatives set up
around the country to protest Barack Obama's deficit spending.
Appearing in Austin before a boisterous crowd of about a thousand
people who were fuming about everything from gun control to the Wall
Street bailout, the governor opened with this shot: "I'm sure you're
not just a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, I'm with

Then came the thought that earned him YouTuber-of-the-Day and a
favorable mention from Lord Limbaugh: Texas just, By God, might secede
from the union if Washington keeps messing with us.

No doubt many people in the other 49 states burst into applause at
this notion, but it caused quite a bit of consternation among home
folks, who rather like being both Texans and Americans. Was he serious?
Apparently so. When reporters asked afterward about the legality of
such a rash move, Perry pointed out that Texas had entered the union
under a unique agreement that gave us the right "to leave if we decided
to do that." Good line, but utterly untrue. No such agreement ever

Facts aside, what's going through Perry's perfectly coiffed head is
that polls presently show him losing his re-election bid in next year's
Republican primary.

Thus, he's scrambling to excite the most rabid of the Texas GOP fringe
by posing as a courageous defender of Texas sovereignty against
meddlers from Washington. His chief target is $555 million in federal
money that would come to our state under Obama's economic stimulus
program. This is desperately needed money that would go straight into
our nearly broke unemployment compensation fund, but he asserts that he
will reject it, claiming that the federal dollars come with strings

The "strings" are actually simple and sensible threads of reform
that would help the hard-hit workaday people of our state. For example,
the federal stimulus program requires that part-time workers
also be eligible for unemployment comp. In today's harsh economy, when
part-time work is all that many people can get, they ought to be
covered, too. But common sense has never met Perry, much less
befriended him, so he continues to posture: "We think it's time to draw
the line in the sand and tell Washington that no longer are we going to
accept their oppressive hand in the state of Texas," he recently spewed.

Yes, comandante, but what about that other $16 billion or
so in Obama's stimulus money that you are going accept? For example,
while you slap away funds to help working folks, you're eagerly
reaching out with your other hand to grab $1.2 billion of those filthy
federal dollars to put into your pet project of saddling Texans with a
network of privatized toll roads. If it's a matter of principle, why
not reject all federal money? Indeed, you used to be a cotton farmer
who benefited from Washington's crop subsidy programs - how oppressive
was that for you?

OK, our governor has not quite attained the Blagojevichian level of
gubernatorial gooberness, but he's a striver, and he's only one bad
haircut away from getting to the top. Illinois, we feel your pain.

© 2023 Jim Hightower