May 22, 2015
Jim Hightower and Rick Perry’s Army of God
Posted on Aug 18, 2011
Jim Hightower: No. He’s a very gifted speaker, which Bush is not. He has become a very gifted campaigner. But not, you know … he’s not smart at all. And in fact his grades got released, and that was pretty sad. [laughs] Like a D in economics.
Robert Scheer: So let me ask you a question that we ask …
Jim Hightower: OK, one more and then I’ve got to dash.
Robert Scheer: … yeah, I understand. Let me just say, a question that I could ask of anybody in the country anywhere: Why do these guys retain popularity? I mean, you know, he’s …
Square, Site wide
Jim Hightower: Well, he’s not that popular. The reason he’s governor is not because he’s so brilliant, although he’s running around the country now saying, look … I got 58 percent of the vote for re-election last year. What he doesn’t tell you is we … the Democratic Party has essentially collapsed here. It’s now building back at the grass-roots level, by the way, and that’s a positive thing. But for the last, certainly the 10 years he’s been running, it has been very weak because it has not run as the Democratic Party; they quit being Democrats. And the result is, people quit voting. We had the lowest voter turnout in America last year; we had 33 percent of eligible voters go to the polls. So that means he’s the choice of about 18 percent of the people. The sad thing is, the Democrats couldn’t get 19 percent. But that’s our fight, right there; it’s not even really the Perrys. And if Obama were to lose—and I can’t imagine him losing to a Perry—but if he were, it would be because he’s not been a Democrat; he’s not stood up in a way that excites and makes believers out of his own people.
Robert Scheer: You know, Jim Hightower, I want to thank you for taking this time. I think people are going to be—you’re the go-to person to try to figure out Texas and figure out this governor, and so thanks for …
Jim Hightower: I’m happy to help. [laughs]
Robert Scheer: Take care.
Jim Hightower: OK, Robert. Thanks a bunch. Bye bye.
Peter Scheer: That was writer and radio host Jim Hightower and Truthdig Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer on Truthdig Radio.
Peter Scheer: We all know about Rick Perry’s giant prayer rally in Houston. But did you know that there’s a group of fringe Christians who believe the Democratic Party is controlled by demons? And they want Rick Perry to carry their banner into the White House. Here to talk about that and more is Texas Observer editor David Mann. You’re here to talk about Gov. Rick Perry, who’s been—correct me if I’m wrong—he’s the longest continuous governor of any state in the union?
David Mann: I don’t know about that; I assume he is. He’s the longest-serving governor in Texas history, I know that for sure. And if he finishes out his current term, he would have been in office for 14 years.
Peter Scheer: So—that’s amazing, considering that Texas—George W. Bush was the first governor of Texas to serve more than one consecutive four-year term, right. So Texas had a two-year term until the ’70s, and when Bush came into office he was the first governor to really have more than one term. But Rick Perry now has … he’s been elected three times to the governor’s office, right?
David Mann: Yeah, he’s been elected three times on his own, and he also served the final two years of Bush’s term back in 2001, 2002, when Bush went to the White House. And it’s important to note that Texas doesn’t have term limits, so Perry, if he doesn’t win the White House, could conceivably keep serving as governor; in fact, some people here have been referring to him as “governor for life.”
Peter Scheer: Which is kind of amazing, considering the history of how long these governors have served, right?
David Mann: It is. I mean, usually people kind of either wear out their welcome, or wear themselves out, or kind of they’ve accomplished everything they want to do, or they’ve moved up, in Bush’s case. And so it is kind of remarkable in this modern age that somebody would serve that long and not suffer some kind of voter fatigue. People have long talked about a Perry fatigue, but that is yet to materialize. And Perry is such a skillful campaigner, and the Democratic Party here is in a down period, to say the least. So he’s continued to win elections, and if he wanted to I think he could keep going as long as he wanted to.
Peter Scheer: I have a friend from Austin, which is admittedly weird, but he tells me that Perry isn’t really that liked in the state of Texas. Is that true?
David Mann: Yeah, I think he’s a very polarizing figure. Certainly Democrats and liberals really don’t like him; he kind of drives Democrats crazy here in the same way that Bush did. But there’s quite a few Republicans that don’t like him either. They don’t like his cronyism, his patronage; some of his major proposals they feel like haven’t been conservative, like proposing toll roads; like proposing that teenage girls get the HPV vaccine; he passed a business tax that a lot of conservatives didn’t like. So there’s quite a few Republicans that don’t like him in Texas. And you have to remember that when Perry ran for re-election in 2010, he had not one but two opponents in the Republican primary, and he won that primary; but there still was 50 percent of Republican primary voters that voted for somebody else besides Rick Perry. …
Peter Scheer: And he beat Kay Bailey Hutchison, who was a very popular political figure in Texas.
David Mann: Yeah, he just trounced her in that primary. And also a third candidate, a tea party candidate. And he won 50 percent in a three-way primary, which is very impressive. But again, it does show that there is some Republican opposition to him in the state.
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