(As usual, the arrangement with the syndicators means these columns appear here a week after their newspaper release)
^(For use by New York Times News Service clients)@<
^By BOB FRANKEN@=
^C.2011 Hearst Newspapers@=
WASHINGTON _ It's a great song: ``All my exes live in Texas.” George Strait goes on to explain that's why he lives in Tennessee.
Now we have Rick Perry, who proves some excess lives in Texas. At the moment, he's tippy-toeing around the idea of trying to leave the Lone Star state, after more than 10 years as governor, not for Tennessee but for D.C., which he basically promises to shut down if he became president.
So far, he's just a campaign tease, spreading the gospel about limited government and his version of economic success, while his many detractors bitterly complain that he is trying to use the Gospel to preach discriminationand telling a glaringly incomplete story about how good things are back home.
His latest controversy swirls around that massive August 6 “Call to Prayer” he is fronting in Houston's Reliant Stadium. He calls it ``apolitical’’ but defenders of the separation of church and state call it unconstitutional, citing his clarion call to ``come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles and thank Him for the blessings of freedom.’’
That might leave out a whole lot of Americans who are free to not call upon Jesus as their personal savior.
This is an event that is sponsored by the American Family Association, an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center calls an anti-gay ``ate group.’’ One AFA top official, Bryan Fischer, even blames the Holocaust on homosexuals that made up ``all of the Storm Troopers (and) the Brownshirts.’’
Rick Perry makes no bones about his hard-right agenda. He's all for teaching Intelligent Design. On the ``anti’’-side there are gays, abortion, and the federal government unless . . . he's accepting federal money for the state. Otherwise, as he told the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, ``Our goal is to displace the entrenched powers in Washington.”
This is the governor who repeatedly pushes “anti-groping" state legislation that would prohibit TSA security people from conducting their controversial pat downs at airport checkpoints. Never mind that U.S. officials say they would refuse to let planes fly out of Texas if Perry signs the law.
Remember, Perry is the one who not only believes that states can nullify federal security laws but has even flirted with the idea that Texas could secede from the United States.
That's all music to the party faithful’s ears and their shouts of ``Run, Rick, Run!,” are probably music to his, although he's still trying to decide whether he wants to. After all, he'd have to leave the Texas paradise he describes, with its strong employment jump and no state income tax (he calls the federal one a ``mistake’’), light business regulation and union unfriendly climate.
He neglects to point out that Texas is at the top of another list, the one that ranks the state as ``first among states for total pollutants released to our land and water,” according to the Texas Policy Center.
It also ranks number one in the percentage of residents who have no health insurance...more than 25 per cent. Meanwhile, it's down near the bottom _ 45th _ in an exhaustive study of youngster well-being with infant mortality up 11 per cent since he became governor.
But the most compelling number might be the one in the polls like mid-May's AP-GFK survey which counts 45 per cent of Republican respondents unhappy with their presidential choice. Newly announced Jon Huntsman is just the latest to fall flat with the dreaded ``too moderate’’ label. Rick Perry is among those who would definitely not have that problem.
For now he seems to be enjoying the spotlight while he muses about taking the ultimate ego trip along the national trail. There's another George Strait hit called ``Right or Wrong.’’ In Rick Perry's case, it would be ``Right and Hard Right.’’
(Email: bob(at)hearstdc.com; on the Web; www.bobfranken.tv)