Categorized | Submission

The Cowboy Mannequin Politics of Rick Perry

Guest Submission by Jose R. Gonzalez

Fully understanding the power of iconography and the psyche of the American electorate, an as of yet unidentified media handler has seized on the most prominent Texas politician operating in the state. A man who dons fine tailored suits which he practically lives in, has been dressed in the first ad of his presidential campaign as a chaps wearing, ten-gallon hat sporting cowboy. We rationalize this as natural because he is a Texan and that is synonymous with cowboy. The excitement factor is fulfilled and presidential candidate Rick Perry is born.

Not so quick. This bull rider has not yet met the eight-second mark. Look closely at the cowboy. He’s merely playing dress up at a big city livestock show and rodeo.

Before delving into the false pretenses of Perry as a cowboy, let’s review what it is about the intrinsic link between the cowboy and Texas. Cowboys are found operating everywhere throughout the West. They’re not exclusive to Texas. Granted, some of the first cowboys were from Texas. However, it goes beyond the historical origins of the cowboy to explain the strong relation people have between him and the Great State of Texas.

There is definitely much to be found in the character of the cowboy and Texas itself. Texas is known as the Lone Star State far from simply because of the design of its flag. It was an independent republic for an entire decade. Throughout its existence, the Republic of Texas was not recognized as such by strong powers of the time, including the United States, due to claims of sovereignty by neighboring Mexico. Something like the issue of Taiwan and China today.

It was a fledgling but proud nation. Slightly uncouth but exceedingly determined. Much like a cowboy.

Life was hard in the early days of an independent state of Texas. It was largely undiscovered by settlers. Those who laid claim to the land were the cowboys who drove cattle from the central of Texas to the far north. They were the first heroes of the frontier.

Hence the rough independence and rugged individualism of the state and cowboys in general became interconnected. Coupled with the vastness of Texas and the heavy personality of a typical cattle driver and you have a rich and colorful legacy to last through the ages.

This is not the case with Governor Rick Perry. His is a tale of style (shiny, ornate spurs if you may) rather than substance (weathered boots if you’d like). What can be ascribed to Perry’s garb also applies to his portrayal as a Tea Party hero. The outfit suits him well on only the most superficial of ways.

Perry has assumed the title of “America’s Jobs Governor”, a title highlighted in the aforementioned campaign ad along with scenes of small town West Texas life. What isn’t highlighted? The incentives Perry as governor has implemented to create these new jobs he boasts about. What could be the reason for this omission? Perhaps the fact these jobs were not actually created by incentives put in by Perry himself. Tort reform, as admirable as it may be, has simply not been an incentive for these numbers. Other factors, including price of oil, are where credit is due. What else in information was sacrificed for the sake of watching Perry walking a horse? Oh yeah. The pay scale of these jobs; a great bulk of them are low paying.

Suddenly the ad has lost a lot of its luster. The viewer should probably ask him or herself what else lies under that delicately put upon cowboy veneer.

Other than the catchy “America’s Jobs Governor” header, what exactly is known about Perry outside of Texas? The allure of a cowboy is due in large part to the mystery surrounding his background. Consequently the mystery of Politician Perry thrives in the cowboy mystique his PR team is craftily enveloping him in.

How truly genuine a conservative candidate is Perry? A means of determining this would be by evaluating the moment of conservative clarity for a man who once campaigned for Al Gore. Many former Democrats, current Republicans today credit President Ronald Reagan for their political conversion. Perry was Al Gore’s chief campaigner for Texas in the then US senator’s run for the presidency in 1988. By the end of Reagan’s second term one would expect a potential GOP nominee today would have by then experienced that moment of conservative clarity. Not Politician Perry.

Actually, what made Perry a Republican? By 1989 in Texas the Democrat label was not as hot a commodity for electoral victory as was the Republican one. Pure political convenience would become a recurring theme in Perry’s career.

For many years Perry served as a largely inconsequential governor. In his second elected term he finally became more involved. Rather than using whatever little executive power he could wrest to limit government intervention in the lives of Texans, he actually attempted to amp state authority over the citizenry.

At the onset an HPV vaccine law as Perry ordered in 2007 would seem quite sensible. After all, HPV is the most common of sexually transmitted infections and has been proven to be a trigger for cervical cancer.

What rightly prompted outrage from so many Texas families was the vaccine would be designated for girls as young as eleven. A vaccine to help prevent an STI mandated on the parents of preteens; in anticipation that these girls would be sexually active at … thirteen? It was quite reasonable for many parents to view this as an infringement on their values. Not to mention the costly price of the vaccine: $360.

As it would result, a close Perry associate had a vested interest in this new vaccine. Gardasil, the vaccine in question, was produced by Merck. Conveniently enough, the lobbyist for Merck was a former chief of staff for Perry. The strong rebuke by Texas families of this most apparent of crony policy forced Perry to backtrack legislation on it. The lobbyist, however, is still in the inner circle of Politician Perry, having co-founded a political action committee for him.

Perry now claims the HPV vaccine mandate was actually a “pro-life” stance of his. If so in favor of protecting women’s health, then one is left to ask why Perry didn’t push with equal zeal a meningococcal vaccine mandate for Texas college students residing on campus. The fatal effects of meningitis are far more immediate than whatever an HPV vaccine may prevent. With Politician Perry throwing a conservative label on something (no matter how anathema the actual thing is to conservatism) is enough explanation to the folks.

Perry would somewhat learn that there are limits to rhetoric, though. When trying to orchestrate a land grab of private property by the government, call the deed by its accepted euphemism. As if eminent domain on its own wasn’t on most circumstances egregious enough, the developers of the toll and expressway cutting through the Texas countryside (threatening the livelihood of real cowboys) would be private contractors and foreign companies. A continuation of Politician Perry’s disregard for genuine conservative principles in governing.

Perry exhibited in both of these situations not merely a strong disingenuous streak but also a lack of grasp in governance itself. The Texas governorship really is largely symbolic. Politician Perry feeds off of symbolism so up until now this has served him well. What it hasn’t done is actually test Perry in dealing with a vast bureaucracy; much less prepped him for the behemoth one found in D.C.

Perhaps what has led Perry to exceed every other governor in Texas history regarding years in office is the weak executive power of the governorship. Texas has the weakest of governorships which by that definition has given Perry little actual executive experience. All those years as Texas governor has really been merely quantity in place of quality.

The willingness on behalf of Perry to remain in office for an unlimited duration and his reluctance to create an electoral successor should seriously concern members of the Tea Party movement. Placing term limits on office holders should be one of the instruments of reform at both the national and state level. Once more Politician Perry prefers the comfort found in a title.

Social conservatives now clamoring to Perry should take note that he in as recently as the 2008 election endorsed Rudy Giuliani for president. What was Perry’s expressed rationale for endorsing a pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-same sex marriage candidate? Other than a brief musing on Giuliani “cleaning up a city”, what Perry cited was the “America’s Mayor” title. For Politician Perry that sufficed as it does for him to now run for president with the hollowed credentials of being “America’s jobs Governor”.

Through his campaign ad Perry is extending his special brand of cowboy mannequin politics to the national scene. They say cowboy life is fast dying in America. This helps ignite the cowboy in the imagination of American voters seeking independence from candidates manufactured by the political machinery. What they may find with Politician Perry is a candidate whose conservative credentials are deader than any cowboy from the Old West.

Cross-posted at Awake till Dawn

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  • Curby William Graham

    Wow – what a pathetic attempt to go after Perry.  Congrats – you just repeated all the liberal talking points about him.  Guess we dumb ol’ Texans voted for him because he was a moderate/RINO/squish.  Cuz that’s how we roll!  Look genius – Perry is not the enemy.  He is the closest thing to Sarah we have in a governor right now.  Sorry if he spooked all the C4SP folks and is sucking up some of the oxygen away from her and Bachmann.  But everyone of your talking points is a big nothing-burger.  Keep chomping away at it if you like.  Sarah should have gotten into the race earlier instead of playing coy.  If she gets in and wins the primaries, fine.  I just hope she doesn’t split the Tea party vote and give Romney the nomination now.  She and Perry don’t seem to be at odds with one another – why are you guys trying to do to Perry what the libs and RINOs have done to Sarah? 

    • Jose R. Gonzalez

      Did you read closely?  My criticism of Perry is based on his lack of conservatism.  No liberal talking points here, buddy!  As for "we dumb ol’ Texans", guess what, you’re addressing a fellow Texan.  Born and bred.  I actually voted for Perry for governor twice, in fact.  However, this does not blind me to his shortcomings.  My argument is that he’s riding off of a pr campaign and not much more.   

      If anything your comments read as if you believe Perry is immune to any criticism.  NEWSFLASH:  He’s not.  That’s why we have a primary contest.  Like Michelle Malkin wrote recently about backlash for her own criticism of Perry, "It’s a primary, not a coronation."  If Perry really is the best candidate for the GOP nomination, then let him prove it on his merits.  

      Oh and what does this mean,"Sorry if he spooked all the C4SP folks and is sucking up some of the oxygen away from her and Bachmann."  I don’t think a single C4P person is at all intimidated by the prospects of Sarah Palin facing Rick Perry.  When primary voters evaluate their respective records they’ll see Palin’s are far more genuine then Perry’s.  As for Bachmann, she doesn’t even enter the equation.

      Next time read in full before commenting, please.


        Thank God someone sees this Elmer Gantry for what he truly is! According to his grade scripts he managed a "D" or "C" in an undergraduate phys ed class? How the hell do you do that? I also recently read where he accepted almost 18 billion dollars in bailout to balance the state budger! Please Jose keep this rodeo clown honest! 


    Thank God someone sees this Elmer Gantry for what he truly is! According to his grade scripts he managed a "D" or "C" in an undergraduate phys ed class? How the hell do you do that? I also recently read where he accepted almost 18 billion dollars in bailout to balance the state budget! Please Jose keep this rodeo clown honest!     


    Thank God someone sees this Elmer Gantry for what he truly is! According to his grade scripts he managed a "D" or "C" in an undergraduate phys ed class? How the hell do you do that? I also recently read where he accepted almost 18 billion dollars in bailout to balance the state budger! Please Jose keep this rodeo clown honest!     

  • herdgadfly

    Hmmm — " a chaps wearing, ten-gallon hat sporting cowboy … playing dress up at a big city livestock show and rodeo."

    I do believe that the term for an urbanized fake cowboy in Texas is "Goat Roper."  Of course I can’t end without telling an Aggie joke.

    There is a Texas Aggie named Rick, who is, to be expected,
    not too bright. He really wants to graduate, but is just not quite making it.
    He begins to tell people about his problems, and the townspeople get together
    and put pressure on the University to let Rick graduate.


    At the graduation ceremony, the President calls Rick to the
    podium, and asks people what should be done with him. The audience chants
    "Give Rick another chance. Give Rick another chance. Give Rick another


    The President says "OK Rick. I am going to ask you a
    question. If you get it right, you can graduate. If not, you have to
    stay." He asks the audience what they think, and again they chant
    "Give Rick another chance. Give Rick another chance."


    The President turns to Rick and says "OK, Rick. What is
    2+3?" The audience is quiet as Rick ponders. After several minutes, he
    says, tentatively, "5?" To this the audience replies, "Give Rick
    another chance. Give Rick another chance."

  • John McKenna

    I like Perry and voted for him.  Sarah Palin endorsed his run for Governor. 
    Perry’s biggest problem is not his conversion to conservative values not being
    real, but his inability to come across as someone who cares and speaks his
    values from the heart.  If you ever hear Perry and Palin speak on the same
    stage, back to back, there is no comparison.  Perry prances around and shouts
    like a preacher, but still seems like someone repeating plastic talking points,
    which is indeed true, as you will hear the same thing if speaks in another location.
    MB does the same thing, but with less flames and shouts as Perry. When I hear
    MB raise her voice with fake passion, I almost start to laugh, but I digress.

    Sarah Palin CARES about the people of America and it shines through in her
    presence when she speaks.  Palin provokes a passion in the hearts of her
    followers and Perry leaves you feeling hungry.

    I think Sarah Palin will spend little time attacking Perry as he is a light weight
    when it comes to drawing in the masses.  Perry makes a lot of gaffs too, because
    he is not comfortable speaking without pre-written speeches.  I still like Perry for
    what he has done for Texas, but I love Sarah Palin for what she has done, and
    will do for America. 

    I voted for Perry in Texas because the other choice was a Tea Party fringe
    element who was from the planet zulch with no experience.  Yes, the Tea Party
    has some fringe elements we have to watch out for.  If it was not for Sarah
    Palin, I think the Tea Party in America would have split into many warring pieces
    and failed to swallow the republican party like it is doing now.  Palin has got a lot
    glue in her influence right now….IMHO.  The Tea Party owes Palin a huge debt for
    helping their cause go main stream and be respected.

    The two biggest fractions of the Tea Party fall under the Ron Paul camp and
    the Sarah Palin camp.  The Ron Paul camp live in the idea that we can go back
    to the old days when a huge ocean keep the wars all over the world from harming
    us.  The world is a smaller place now and 911 did not require a standing air force
    to do us great harm.  We can no longer ignore the rest of the world.  The second
    major problem with Ron Paul’s group is they want to legalize all drugs.  When you
    ask them to show you one country in the world that has successfully legalized opium
    and it helped their society, they just give you a blank stare.  Eventually the Palin camp
    of the Tea Party will prevail, based on a few points of logic, that will make our other
    half come back to reality.

    Perry preaches to the Tea Party, but he becomes boring fast.  Watch and see.

  • JamesColumbiaMo

    Perry would probably be my choice if Sarah Palin decides not to run.  Yes he has problems, but so do all the other candidates.  Romney is too liberal…Bachmann doesn’t have experience as a Governor and doesn’t have half of Palin’s charisma.   The other candidates like Cain, Huntsman, Paul, etc simply have no chance of winning a general election.  I sure do hope Gov Palin runs.  (Deep down I think she will)

  • JDCampbell

    Nice write up!

    There is a lot more to Rick Perry than meets the average voter eye, and even though this is a small list it gives you a pretty good idea who Rick Perry really is.
    As I add on I will post each Sunday.

    Rick Perry Tidbits:

    Will the real Rick Perry please stand up:

    Truth be Tolled: Parts 1-12

    Texas citizens taking a stand:


    Perry’s Vaccination Mandate

    Why China loves Rick Perry:

    Rick Perry’s Crony Capitalism Problem

    The cowboy corporatist rides to the rescue

    Running with the wind…

  • Nyla Potter

    Unfortunate campaign advise for Perry. There is a big difference in being a cowboy and wearing the rig. The photo of Perry gives off that "Goat Roper" persona. Everything is "Big" in Texas. There is a rich and wild history, that beckoned individuals of "true grit" to birth Texas. She nutures the progeny of her rugged, patritotic, red-blooded forebearers and still beckons to those cut from that cloth. With all that is good in Texas, there are those Texans that still can be buried in a shoe box all you have to do is give them a Fleet enema. Careful on believing your press Gov. Perry.

  • mistah charley

    Buckaroo Rick Perry – herding high schoolers to be vaccinated

    According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a term used in Texas as a synonym for cowboy, :buckaroo" is a corruption of the Spanish word "vaquero", which means "herder of cattle" and derives from vaca, meaning cow – which is, strangely enough, also the root of the word "vaccination". Vaccination (Latin: vacca—cow) is so named because the first vaccine was derived from a virus affecting cows—the relatively benign cowpox virus—which provides a degree of immunity to smallpox, a contagious and deadly disease.

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