Thursday, August 18, 2011

Somebody please take the microphones away....

Just a note, really, on Rick Perry (my bete noir), only because he keeps grabbing headlines, and people keep losing track of the narrative. Let's start with Rick Santorum's comment (and no, it doesn't really matter what subject Santorum was reproaching Perry for; go with me here):

It’s out of place, and hopefully Gov. Perry will step back and recognize that we’re not in Texas anymore.
Texas is full of rednecks and yahoos; but, as Lloyd Doggett notes, we really don't like to admit it.

"He's arrogant, he's full of himself, he just fits the stereotype that is sometimes misapplied to our state," Doggett told TPM in an interview. "We all are really proud to be Texans, but we're not proud of what he's done to our state."
Let me say Texas is the home of snark, of the ironic distance between proposed image and reality. ("Don't Mess with Texas" was a state anti-litter campaign slogan. We keep it around because people think we're serious. If you get too upset, we'll let you in on the joke.) We aren't really boastful braggarts and neanderthal knuckle draggers (well, some of us are) and we aren't at all proud of that image being presented as representative of the state by our politicians. We consider the image a good joke, rather like a tall tale that suckers the listener into believing the preposterous. We think it's funny, but we also think so because it's a joke. Name a U.S. Senator from Texas who does or has walked around in cowboy boots and boasted and talked tough in public like Rick Perry. Even John Cornyn only dons a cowboy hat and boots for campaign ads. He never dresses that way in D.C. Nor would we want him to.

So the Texas stereotype is one we enjoy as a bit of fun, even if it is at our expense. We don't enjoy it when our public representatives (politicians especially) take it seriously, and make us look foolish.

And as for Gov. Goodhair, it is true that he appointed a "young earth creationist" to chair the State Board of Education. But when that appointment had to be renewed, even the Texas Senate balked, and McLeroy lost his bid to be reelected to the Board in the GOP primary. Not in the regular election, in the primary. This was after the publicity the Board garnered (all of it bad) about textbook selection. Once again, Texans may be yahoos, but we don't like it when our officials act like yahoos in public.

It's complicated.

Of course, the really stupid thing (and this is where Perry is stupid, not crafty) is Perry denying any knowledge of geology (the age of the earth) in a state whose major industry since Spindletop has been built on understanding geology. Again, we might elect him governor, but that's because we know the Governor of Texas can't do much; we figure he's harmless.

On a similar point, as recently as a month ago, the Texas Board of Education rejected creationist materials in textbooks, so I don't know what Perry is talking about when he says Texas teaches both evolution and creationism. My daughter certainly only learned evolution in science classes. Which is another lesson: don't take what Gov. Goodhair says at face value. He really is a male Sarah Palin.

So would even Texans elect him President? Well, the boys in the Petroleum Club might be for him, but the rest of us would think twice about that. Pretty sure the country will, too.

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