Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Last Word on Rick Perry

Yesterday, former Texas governor Rick Perry became the first candidate to drop out of the Republican presidential derby.

Roger Simon has offered the last word on the Perry candidacy:

But more importantly, it makes me think about how our presidential  election system actually works. Does it get us the best man or woman?  Does it even come close?  It’s not only because I know Rick Perry that I suspect he might have made one of the better — perhaps even the best — presidents of all those running in both parties.

Of course, no one could possibly know the truth about these things.  No one.  All we have is our guesses. But it is clear that in this year of the non-pro, voters were not excited by the record of a man who was governor of one of our largest states for fourteen years, a period during which that one state, Texas, generated more than a third of the nation’s private-sector jobs.

Maybe that says more about us than it does about Rick Perry.

Astonishingly, Republican voters seem no longer to care about track record. They no longer care about accomplishments or achievements. Republican voters are agog over Donald Trump's record of job creation, record he continually touts, while failing to notice that he has never been a government official and has never run policies that have produced economic growth or job creation.

Republican voters believe that because Trump has built buildings and a skating rink in Central Park, he will naturally know how to run the American government and how to conduct fiscal policy. And they are confident that all of those Trump has insulted and vilified will naturally accept him as their leader and will bow to his demands.

Surely, Perry suffered the fallout of his ill-conceived 2012 presidential campaign. And yet,  he has apparently lost for not being sufficiently entertaining… and for having had the temerity to criticize the great Trump.

1 comment:

Ares Olympus said...

I'd certainly consider Rick Perry as a more credible candidate for president than Trump, even if I found his 2011 "prayer for rain" as difficult to accept.

A part of me would like to believe in miracles, but testing god by asking for them is another matter. I'd rather not fail so publicly, and then you have the problem of interpretation of results, whether this or that scapegoat is responsible for the failure of results.

Similarly I was actually present at a Michele Bachmann rally at the Minnesota capitol a number of years ago where she lead a prayer that God would lower their taxes. In fact that was the moment I really understood how hopelessly deluded many republicans were.

And of course President Bush stated that he had divine knowledge which said to invade Iraq, and if God is on your side, what's the harm in cherry-picking evidence to support your cause, and ignore the counter evidence?
One of the delegates, Nabil Shaath, who was Palestinian foreign minister at the time, said: "President Bush said to all of us: 'I am driven with a mission from God'. God would tell me, 'George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan'. And I did. And then God would tell me 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq'. And I did."

Mr Bush went on: "And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, 'Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East'. And, by God, I'm gonna do it."

And my pastor a few years ago explained dispensationalism as the origin of the evangelical Christian beliefs that America has to support Israel, no matter what, because it is part of their end-times prophesy.

So while we judge the delusions of the fundamentalistic Muslims, and ISIS to create their world government under Allah, we have to see there may be delusions on our side also, and people in high places are acting not on objective facts but on belief systems that are no more reliable than prayer for rain or lowering one's taxes.

But lastly I do see there's a problem of conscience to consider for anyone aspiring to leadership. How do you take responsibility for decisions that can affect billions of people, not knowing what path is right, and which "best worst" choice can be made of every bad situation? And if you are a person of personal conscience and self-doubt, such questions would weigh anyone down. But apparently religious beliefs help protect leaders from carrying that weight personally, but rationalize it under their beliefs, and their conviction of their good intentions, and a belief that some divine knowledge is the true "prime mover" of events, while we're all fated to our parts in the narrative God or whomeever has given to us.

So such beliefs perhaps make it easier to take risks, and fail spectacularly, wither small ones like publicly praying for rain, or big ones, in deciding whether we should drop a nuclear weapon on Japan to end World War II.

I don't think religious belief is categorically any worse than any other ideology in dividing the world between ingroup and outgroup. I accept ideals like social Darwinism or Racial superiority would seem categorically evil, designed to justify inhumanity.

Anyway, Rick Perry also tried to express humanity for the 12+ million illegals living in the U.S, and that's his religion in action, and I'm grateful for that. Religion can dehumanize the "other", and it can open our eyes as well.