Saturday, February 22, 2014

"Jeb Bush and Rick Perry: A Tale of Two Texans"

To quote the National Review, the relationship between the Bush and Perry camps is "complicated."
Talking to the Perry camp, you will hear nothing but admiration and respect for George W., Bush the Elder and Jeb. This sentiment hasn't exactly been reciprocated.

Rewind the clock to 2010. Then Senator, Kay Bailey Hutchinson was running to upseat Perry as Governor of Texas. Although W. didn't endorse her, Dad did. So did Dick Cheney. And James Baker. Even Karen Hughes and W's Education Secretary, Margaret Spellings were there to render support. The advisor of team Hutchinson? If you guessed Karl Rove, you are correct.

Hutchinson reminded Texans "look what I've done for you in Washington." Perry's retort was simple: "These duties should be handled from Austin, not Washington."

This is the classic "Neo-Con," versus "Constitutionalist" argument!

Remembering, "No Child Left Behind," Governor Perry mused, "Yeah, that's a cool name. But it's a monsterous intrusion into our affairs.

"Look, I like George!"(W)"But that's not good public policy. That's what Kay didn't understand. She kept saying,"look what I'm doing for you. Look what Washington is doing for you. But that's not what we want!"

To Neo-Cons, Kay Bailey Hutchinson was in sinc. She believed, like so many including Karl Rove, the Bushes, Cheney, Baker and so many others, that the goal is to "advance and facilitate conservative principles through a large, Washington, D.C. based government."

Which brings us to the man who could be Perry's chief rival for the Republican nomination, Jeb Bush. Jeb did a notable job as Governor of Florida. Nobody can deny that he left office "popular."

Yet "Common core," which he supported from inception has conservatives antsy. It sounds like more "big government" at best. At worst, it sounds like something that the Democrats would devise.

"No Child Left Behind" sounded good and was inspired with the greatest of intentions. But what does the constitution say about education? Last time I checked, there was nothing in the 10th amendment that mentioned "Education!"

What lends credence to Perry's paradigm is the report card of Texas' public school students. As an Iowahawk blogger reported, "white, black and Hispanic students in Texas' allegedly ramshackled public schools outperformed their ethic-group peers in high-tax, union-run Wisconsin in 17 out of 18 NAEP measures, and bested the results of most of the so-called progressive states."

Can Jeb Bush's Florida equal that? Can any state or any Governor equal that?

A very recent discussion with a member of the Florida Mortgage Brokers association reminded me that "Jeb doesn't like Governor Perry."

Maybe there is a reason. After all, it was Karl Rove who broached then Democrat Perry about both switching parties and running against Democrat incumbant, Jim Hightower for Commissioner of Agriculture. As the story goes, Rove made his pitch to Perry with Perry seated high on a tractor on his his father's Paint Creek farm.

As all know, Perry won that election and went on to bigger and better things. What remained was the memory that it was the Bush camp that made it possible for Perry to stay in politics.

A two-term Democrat Congressman, Perry had managed Al Gore's Texas Presidential campaign in 1988.

Perry people will say today that "Al Gore changed drastically" in the coming years. What mattered to Texas Democrats was Perry's unwillingness to support the Dukakis-Benson ticket. At that time, Texas was solidly "blue." Jim Wright was the U.S. House Speaker. Ann Richards was the Governor. When Perry turned his back on Texas Democrats he was, in effect, calling it quits. Rove and Republicans resurrected him.

If there is a rift it might have opened in 1998, when Perry was locked in a photo finish for Lt. Governor. The Bush camp was coasting to re-election. They wanted to call off the dogs. It was reported that Perry had a falling out with Rove. It may have been the beginning of a rivalry between the Bush and Perry camps.

Jeb was always considered "the smart one" by his parents and the media. They had seen him as a future President.A lot of loyal party members hoped that Jeb would run in both '08 and '12. But he didn't. Perhaps it was because he saw '16 as a more winnable landscape.

Unlike his father and brother, Jeb did not attend Yale, opting for the University of Texas. There he received an undergraduate degree in Latin American Studies.

The Spanish language and the countries that spoke it always held a facination for Jeb. Born in Midland, growing up in Houston, Jeb landed his first job with Texas Commerce Bank, with help from family crony, James Baker. In 1977, he was sent to Caracas, Venezuela to open a new operation for the bank. For the next two years he was chiefly engaged in International Trade and Finance.

In 1980, Bush returned to the states to work on his father's presidential campaign. Afterward, he relocated to Miami, taking a Real Estate job for Armando Codina, a self made millionaire Cuban immigrant. In 1986, he was named Secretary of Commerce, serving two years at that post.

Jeb Bush was the only Republican Governor to serve two full terms in Florida, leaving office in 2007. On paper, his eight years as Governor were viewed as successful and productive. He initiated improvements in the economy, environment, health care and education.

The were some "bumps" in the road. He ended Florida's high speed rail initiative. It was thought that his close friendship with the CEO of Southwest Airlines may have influenced his preference. He won accolades from Environmental groups, due to the state's massive increase in public sector lands. Upon leaving office, he went to work for Lehman Brothers.

Those close to the Bush camp readily admit that Jeb is slightly more conservative than his older brother. His "One Florida" proposal effectively ended affirmative action in the state. He is an avid proponent of school vouchers and charter schools.

In all, John Ellis Bush will be remembered as a "better than average Governor." Yet, while commendable, his are no where close to Rick Perry's accomplishments in Texas!

Perry didn't grow up with the same pedigree as held by the Bush dynasty. His parents were tenant farmers in a town, that couldn't be found on a map, 60 miles north of Abilene.He attended Texas A & M University on a ROTC scholarship, getting a degree in Animal Science. Upon graduation, he received an Air Force commission. While in the Air Force, Captain Perry flew C-130's. His action included Libya and several other Middle East sorties.

Perry has the same interest in Environmental issues as Bush. Conservatives are often confused as to how Perry, a conservative, could have lead Al Gore's Presidential campaign. But when you review his Texas Environmental record, a surprise awaits!

During Perry's watch, Texas has scored a 27 percent reduction in ozone levels. They have posted a 53% drop in mono-nitrogen oxides. To top this off, Perry is suing the Environmental Protection Agency in an effort to defend the state's flexible permitting rules. His argument stems from the belief that the air improvement quality can be improved without placing unrealistic burdens on business.

As the Perry camp noted, "Al Gore believed that only through Washington's guidance and auspices" could these goals be achieved. Perry's position is "under the 10th amendment" it is a state responsibility. Besides the state can do it more effectively and efficiently.

Even more notable has been the establishment of $10,000, four-year degrees at ten Texas state universities. That's eight full time semesters for ten grand! Who would have believed it!

The Texas economy is a story in itself. True, Perry drew some criticism from interests outside the Lone Star state for his use of the "Enterprise fund" to entice business to relocate to Texas. Glenn Beck even called him a "job poacher." Yet, anywhere you go in the state, the signs of growth are impressive. From the Metro-Plex to the Gulf Coast, to the Llano Estado, the state is booming. Austin is the fastest growing city in America. The unemployment rate in Texas' capital city is 4.7%, best in the nation.

Which brings us full circle to the possible Republican choice for Hillary Clinton's opponent. Both could make their arguments. Although both men were born in Texas, their roots differ. Perry is a fifth generation Texan. His ancestors were around when Texas fought for Indepedence from Mexico. George Bush the Elder came to Texas from Connecticut.

Their brand of conservatism is likewise dissimilar.

Rick Perry believes in the 10th amendment. As in, state's rights. He believes that the Obama Administration represents a "dark period," as seen by an unprecidented federal reach into the economy, health care, the environment and every other aspect of American life. His solution: a renewed emphasis on states rights. Complicating the term "states rights" has been a stigma of "racist and segregationist" that has been around since 1865.

Per Perry,"states are real things with real interests,real rights. They are not administrative subdivisions of the federal government, even if they've been treated that way for generations." He winces over the traditional connect between states rights and Bull Connor or George Wallace.

Kentucky Senator, Rand Paul drew a distinction between Constitutional Conservatives like Rick Perry and New Conservatives, AKA "Neo-Cons." As Paul wrote in his book, "The Tea Party Goes to Washington," Neo-Cons" believe in a large, Washington, D.C. based government having an exclusive role to advance and facilitate conservative principles. Constitutional Conservatives believe in a more literal view of the Constitution.

Rick Perry is a "strict Constructionist." In essence,if the 10th amendment didn't assign a duty to the federal government, it must be reserved for the state!

Jeb Bush doesn't openly express a belief that the states should be administrative subdivisions of the federal government. But, the "Neo-Con" taint is everywhere. Beginning with his support of Common Core. Working closely with the Environmental Protection Agency drilling efforts in the Everglades were thwarted. This is quite a contrast from Perry's suing them!

Dad was a devout Keynesian. His brother gave us "No Child Left Behind." Not to mention the Department of Homeland Security and two overseas adventures. Perry, like Ronald Reagan is a "supply sider." We still aren't certain where Jeb will be but all indications suggest that he will follow suit with Dad and Dubya and take the Keynesian direction.

In a face-off, could Perry hope to beat Jeb Bush? As Perry stated, "if Jeb Bush's name was Jeb Smith, he'd be the next president of the United States."

One thing is for certain: Bush, if he chooses to run, will have the Republican Establishment firmly behind him. The Republican base, could outdistance them. But, could they throw their unified support behind Govenor Perry? If 2012 is an indication, the answer is "probably not."

Yet, what if they did?

In a perfect world, the party base would merely look at Perry's Texas track record and conclude, "why waste time with a primary? This is our candidate."

A close friend in Louisiana made it clear, "this will never happen. There are too many egos involved."

Quite true. Simply put, "what other Republican option would have the experience, not to mention resources to go the full bout with Jeb Bush?" And, assuming that some did, would all cast their lot against Bush? Not likely.

Rick Perry connects with a segment of the American population that are probably out of bounds for Jeb Bush. They are "lower middle class, largely blue collar Democrats and Independents." The best news is they can't stand Hillary Clinton. It's not that they wouldn't vote for Bush. But they gravitate to Perry. In their eye, he's one of them! This translates to turnout.

Beyond winning the election, there is the question of "direction." Would Bush be, as Perry predicted Mitt Romney would be, "Obama lite?"

Game point might be decided by asking the American people to make a choice. The three options are as follows:

(a) To do nothing. Inflate the money. Ration healthcare. Leave the problem for the next generation. This is the choice of career politicians.
(b) Simpson-Bowles plan of "Shared Sacrifice." A fifty-
cent per gallon, gasoline tax, raising the social security eligibility age. Reducing the home mortgage deduction allowance. Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and George Soros love this alternative.
(c) Reducing the size, scope and cost of the federal government. This would be Perry's answer. He has proposed eliminating the Education, Energy and Commerce Departments. He has also proposed that Congress be made into a part time job, with a 50% paycut.

Would Jeb Bush be ready to second the motion? I would predict, "not entirely."

This brings us to the question that all fiscal conservatives must ask. "Are we happy to continue on as "red team versus blue team playing for the same university?" If not, we next must ask, "which Republican President would best make possible this "break" with the old way of doing things.

Smart money would say, "it wouldn't be Jeb."

No comments:

Post a Comment