Against cervical cancer, before he was for it

Rick Perry flip-flops about HPV vaccination, and lies about it. Jay Root of the Texas Tribune nails him.

The good thing about Rick Perry, it is said, is that you know where he stands. Well, sometimes. Other times, he finds a way to rise above mere principle.

Jay Root of the Texas Tribune completely nails Perry on the question of Gardasil, a vaccine against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

In 2007 Perry tried to require vaccination against HPV, which is linked to cervical cancer, by executive order. The Texas legislature promptly passed a law reversing that order, and Perry, lacking the votes to sustain a veto let the bill become law without his signature. But he kept insisting he’d been right all along.

Here he is in 2007:

In the next year, more than a thousand women will likely be diagnosed with this insidious yet mostly preventable disease. I challenge legislators to look these women in the eyes and tell them, “We could have prevented this disease for your daughters and granddaughters, but we just didn’t have the gumption to address all the misguided and misleading political rhetoric.”

And in 2010:

Let me tell you why it wasn’t a bad idea: Even though that was the result I was looking for, and that becoming the standard procedure for protecting young women against this very heinous deadly dreadful disease, it caused a national debate. I knew I was going to take a political hit … at the end of the day, I did what was right from my perspective, and I did something that saved people’s lives and, you know, that’s a big deal.

That was then; this is now. Now Perry can’t afford to be outflanked on the Sexual Purity issue by Michelle Bachmann. So now Perry says he was wrong, but that he “listened.”

I signed an executive order that allowed for an opt-out, but the fact of the matter is that I didn’t do my research well enough to understand that we needed to have a substantial conversation with our citizenry. But here’s what I learned: When you get too far out in front of the parade, they will let you know, and that’s exactly what our Legislature did, and I saluted it and I said, ‘Roger that, I hear you loud and clear.’ And they didn’t want to do it and we don’t, so enough said.

Perry has now walked back both is support for states’ rights with respect to marriage and his support for public health with respect to HPV vaccination.

Not just a flip-flopper; a liar about his flip-flopping.

More ugly thuggery from Rick Perry

He thinks that loose monetary policy is “almost treasonous.”

Rick Perry thinks another round of monetary expansion would be “almost treasonous,” says of Fed Chair Ben Bernanke “I don’t know what you all would do to him in Iowa, but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas,” says that Bernanke (a Republican appointed by a Republican) may be manipulating monetary policy to re-elect Barack Obama.

Now, as it happens, “treason” is defined in the Constitution. Monetary policy isn’t mentioned.

I don’t know what you all would do to Rick Perry, but here in California we’d call him a fool and a scoundrel. Of course his threat to “treat” Bernanke “pretty ugly” has no actual meaning, but its sheer … well, ugliness … is a reminder that this man can’t be trusted with any power at all, let alone letting him within handling distance of the Football.

As President, George W. Bush made us nostalgic for the good old days of Ronald Reagan. Perry could easily do that for George W. Bush.

Piling on: Rick Perry’s book is bad, really.

(Cross-posted at the Century Foundation’s Taking Note)

Matt Yglesias and Ezra Klein both review Texas Governor Rick Perry’s book, Fed Up! Our fight to save America from Washington.

Matt notes what he calls “The ten weirdest ideas” in that book. Many of Perry’s ideas are, indeed, weird, such as the claim that Al Gore is part of a conspiracy to deny global cooling. Yet if I were grading Matt’s review, I would be forced to deduct points for redundancy. I’m just not convinced that Matt digested this complex work with the kind of detailed textual analysis that (say) Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz applied in several ancient and modern languages to the Talmud…. Continue reading “Piling on: Rick Perry’s book is bad, really.”

Governor Perry Arrives: II. The Continuing Collapse of the Republican Establishment

One of my favorite political trivia questions runs as follows: “In the last half of the 20th century, how many Republican Party presidential tickets did not have a Nixon, Dole or Bush on them?”. That the correct answer is “One” (the 1964 ticket) speaks to the extraordinarily organized way that the Republican Establishment managed the party nomination process for decades after World War II.

I think it was Mark Shields who said during the 2000 election that Republicans pick nominees in a fashion similar to how family-owned banks in Ohio pick a new president: “OK everyone, thanks for coming to the meeting. Dad is retiring. Bill is his oldest son so he will be the president. Any objections? No? Great, see you on Monday.” Shields was commenting at the time on why even the best-run, most public imagination capturing insurgent campaign in the post WWII-history of the Republican Party (John McCain’s) would ultimately get crushed by the party establishment and the rank-and-file voters who take their marching orders therefrom.

But my have things changed. I view President G.W. Bush as a critical figure in the party’s transformation because while he couldn’t have been elected without the Republican Establishment he made clear his contempt of them the moment he got into office. More cracks showed in the 2008 nomination race, a multi-car train wreck that McCain somehow won. In 2010, the Tea Party candidates were running as much against the Republican Establishment as they were against Democrats. And today, after the sort of serious people the Establishment would have loved (Thune, Daniels) declined to run, Governor Perry joins Gingrich, Pawlenty, Paul, Bachmann, Romney, Santorum and Cain (and Palin?) in a circular-firing-squad-cum-rugby scrum. Never in my lifetime has the Republican Party nomination process involved so many divisive figures, second-rate figures and genuine loons, nor evoked such a lack of broadly shared enthusiasm for any one candidate. In short, the Republican Party today is reminiscent of the Democratic Party of the early 1970s, and that’s a huge edge for President Obama no matter which Republican nominee he faces in 2012.

Governor Perry Arrives: I. Americans Believe in a Believer

I am less sure than many observers that Rick Perry will sweep aside all the other Republican candidates and march triumphantly to a Presidential nomination. A national campaign is an inferno to which no state-level campaign compares, and many people who look composed and powerful in their own neighborhood wilt or burst into flames at the next level. Further, even if Perry can perform in the national spotlight, all the candidates in “Governor Perry’s space” (Bachmann, Pawlenty, Santorum) may ace each other out and let front runner Mitt Romney skate home.

That said, Governor Perry has a huge advantage over Mitt Romney in that he clearly believes certain things and says so in a simple, declarative fashion. You don’t see this so much in Europe, but in the U.S., there is a non-negligible proportion of the electorate who says “I don’t agree with him, but I’m gonna support him because I know where he stands”.

I have long wondered why this is so, as it doesn’t seem logical on its face. Continue reading “Governor Perry Arrives: I. Americans Believe in a Believer”

What if they gave a theocrat rally and nobody came?

Rick Perry booked a 71,000-seat stadium for his “come-to-Jesus-and-elect-me-President” revival this Saturday, but only 8000 people are now scheduled to show up.

I’ve been convinced for some weeks that Barack Obama was very likely to find himself facing Rick Perry in November 2012. Against what must be the weakest field of Presidential candidates a major party has ever assembled, Perry has name recognition, fund-raising capacity, and good relations with all three wings of today’s GOP: the plutocrats, the Teahadis, and the theocrats.

My model of the process was that Perry would replace Bachmann as the non-Romney candidate, and then roll over Romney. Unlike a situation where Romney was head-to-head with Bachmann and the grown-ups might think about intervening, I don’t see the Republican establishment – what’s left of it – getting freaked out by a Perry candidacy, as weak as it might prove to be in November.

(Apparently Perry is seriously stupid, but that’s no bar to his being nominated; nor is the innocent man whose death warrant he signed and posthumously called “a monster,” or the subsequent cover-up of the blunder; nor his bizarre claim that Texas might secede if Democrats kept winning elections.)

Perry’s co-sponsorship with the American Family Association of the “Response” revival meeting this Saturday was meant to burnish his theocratic credentials and to mobilize the faithful against the Kenyan Muslim communist. His formal entry into the race would have followed.

But right now there are only 8,000 people scheduled to show up, which is going to make a 71,000-seat stadium look pretty damned empty. From the perspective of Perry’s candidacy, that’s both a bad thing and a bad sign. Correspondingly, it’s good news for Michelle Bachmann and Mitt Romney.