Oh, happy day.
Monday, July 8.
I was home when I got the news. I was standing at the bar scrolling through my Twitter feed, scarfing down a sandwich when I saw the breaking story.
Gov. Rick Perry announced he would not seek a fourth term as leader of the Lone Star State.
Jubilation bubbled inside me.
Within minutes, a friend texted to see if I’d heard the news. That was quickly followed by notification from my husband. Throughout the week a few other friends mentioned it, all in gleeful celebration.
In December 2011, about a month before he withdrew from the presidential primary race, I wrote a column detailing my “Perry experience” over the years and surprise at his implosion in the national spotlight.
Even though I wasn’t a political reporter, through various story assignments I had run into the governor on several occasions since he took office in 2000. Every conversation or interview over the years deepened my disdain for Gov. Sexy Hair, as we refer to him in the Tribe household.
I took pleasure in his presidential campaign follies but was somewhat disappointed when he withdrew because that meant he was coming home to Texas.
Of course, he was welcomed back by the far right while the middle-of-the-roaders like me and those on the left cringed.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics and Washington (CREW) has actually named him one of the worst governors in the United States. The non-profit, legal watchdog group reports that since January 2011, Perry has taken advantage of an obscure provision in Texas law that allows him to collect his pension benefits from the state, along with his governor’s salary.
The group also points out that Perry has demonstrated a lack of transparency throughout his tenure by maintaining a policy that his staff delete emails every seven days, and by keeping records closed that detail his daily schedule or guests who stay overnight at the governor’s mansion – records that were previously public.
The list of complaints goes on and on: his tendency to let needed legislation die on his desk if it offends a donor, his generosity to big business from his slush fund, and the habit of appointing donors to state positions and raising campaign dollars from state appointees and their families.
Until last week it seemed we would never get rid of him. But his announcement was a little ray of sunshine.
Then just days later, news broke that R. Bowen Loftin was stepping down as president of Texas A&M University, my alma mater. I got a catch in my throat. Would Perry, who is also an Aggie, slide into this prestigious position? There have been rumors that he would one day assume a post within the system.
I was nauseous just thinking about it, but the timing seemed too coincidental. Our governor, A&M Class of 1972 and infamous yell leader, decides to leave the top post in the state and Loftin, who by all accounts is beloved and has done a good job, resigns, seemingly out of nowhere.
I didn’t want to see what happened next. Of course, as friends reminded me: It’s doubtful he would get the A&M presidential post because it’s a real job. Actual work is involved, which doesn’t seem to be Perry’s forte.
But the question remains: What will he do now?
After reading a July 15 Washington Post article, I was surprised to find out he’s still considering a run for president of the United States.
I guess a presidential campaign is like childbirth. God makes you forget all the horrible moments; otherwise you’d never do it a second time.
In the article, reporter Dan Balz asks Perry “how his lousy introduction to the national stage would affect his chances if he were to run again.”
Perry’s response: “America’s been a country of second choices.”
Balz asks if, in fact, he meant “second chances.”
The article quotes Perry as saying, “Both. Second choices and second chances … If one performance or a series of performances pretty much blackballs you, then it does. But I don’t think that’s what this country’s all about.”
There you have it, folks.
Although I would argue that Rick Perry could best serve the people of this great nation by becoming a hermit, I realize that’s unlikely. His ego wouldn’t allow it.
So after much consideration, I’m led to believe that a Perry run for the White House might not be so bad.
It would cost us a few million dollars for his DPS security detail, but it would physically remove him from our great state and keep his nose out of the A&M system.
And it would be an absolute windfall for the comedy writers at “Saturday Night Live.”
So, get out there on the campaign trail and quit messing with Texas. Perry for president in 2016!
Kristen Tribe is news editor of the Wise County Messenger.