I have recieved a number of comments in support of Gov. Rick Perry. Perry has a number of very good qualities, and at first I leaned very strongly towards him. However, here is why I do not support him:
1. His lack of knowledge about Washington. I am strongly opposed to having a Washington outsider as president. Why? We need someone in office who knows how to actually do the job. At first, I thought Perry was such a person. However, that is not true. He has shown that he has no clue about the federal workforce he will lead (he thinks federal workers cannot be fired; and thinks they can negotiate wages), he does not appear to know and understand which departments do what (and shown by his complete lack of ability to get into details of how he will manage closing of 3 deparments), and he appears to be largely ignorant of what sorts of policies can actually pass in Washington (see his energy plan, which is a non-starter politically). Perry may be very knowledgable about Texas, but he is not ready for Washington.
2. His poor debate performance. I started watching him in the debates as a supporter of his. However, even from that point-of-view, he never won a single debate. Bush was not the best debater, but he was able to listen to critisism of his weaknesses and improve. Perry appeared in each debate like someone who was coached, not as someone who was speaking from his heart. When Newt, Santorum, or Cain spoke, it appeared to be what they believed and felt. In the case of Cain, he really lacked details and appeared to not think his plans through; however, they were his ideas. Romney was clearly coached, but was polished. The ideas may not have been his, but he understood them enough to speak well on them. Perry appeared as though he was coached, memorized a few key lines and points, but was never prepared beyond remembering a few lines. His forgetting the 3rd department he wants to cut is the perfect example. If he really had knowledge of the details of the plan, and really understood the plan he was selling as his own, he would be able to name the departments, their functions, etc. Instead, they were nothing but a bullet point he was to remember. His poor debate performance to me signals that he is not an expert on Washington and not really to lead a government that he does not understand.
3. His attempts to appease the fringe right. On alot of issue, I am a member of the fringe right. I'm 100% pro-life, pro-family, and I support cuts to social security, medicare, medicaid, and cuts to most federal agencies. I support eliminating the department of education. That said, I want a candidate with a broad appeal who is electable. I have no problem, for example, with a candidate who wants to outlaw contraception. However, if a candidate campaigns on that, he will likely lose. Rick Perry --while not actually moving right-- has campaigned lately in an attempt to win the support of many right-wing fringe groups. Here are some example:
-Removing the deparment of Commerce. A plan to do this would really need to be well thought out and detailed. The Constitution requires a Census. The Consitution requires that the federal government regulate interstate and foriegn commerce. The Department of Commerce has needed functions, such as conducting the Census, regulating broadcast spectrum (used for for cell phones, tv, internet, military, hospital, etc). Without spectrum regulations, folks could broadcast signals that interact with pacemakers or other medical equiptment and kill people (and if states could regulate spectrum, cell phones and medical devices would not work accross state lines). Commerce does a number of tasks required by the Consitution and necessary for our country. His proposals to eliminate it appear extreme to the public and make him less electable. Frankly, they also appear stupid to me.
-Attacking public employees. 27% of Virginia workers work for federal, state, or local government. The highest of any state but Alaska. The reason why Gore lost to Bush is because Gore refused to pander to the issue of Coal in West Virginia. He lost West Virginia, and thus the election. Virginia is likely the swing state that will determine the 2012 election. In Northern Virginia hundreds of thousands of federal employees live. Tens of thousands more live in Norfolk. These voters lean conservative and voted for Bob McDonnell. However, they are swing voters. Typically, federal employees vote Republican in Virginia. Largely because they are typically folks who work for the Department of Defense, or in a security-related job. Many come into government because of 9-11. That said, these voters are people. People do not like being attacked. People also do not like salary freezes, or people who apply for the job of their boss on the plateform of laying them off or cutting their pay. Perry, along with Romney, will have a very, very hard time winning Virginia and thus winning the election.
-Proposing a part-time citizen congress. The consitution requires that congress pass a budget...something that Congress already cannot do. Congress already is in campaign mode all the time. If Congress were 'part-time,' then the president would spend 1/2 the time attacking "do nothing" congress. The problem with 1/2 the pay and congress allowed to get a new part-time job (and Perry's plan has it) is that Congressmen would get very high paying part-time jobs by those who want to influence congress and it would become legal for them to buy their own congressman. A company could offer a Senator $1 million a year for a part-time job, and under Perry's plan that would be legal. The company would then make that money back in influence and pork. Stupid plan.
-Slash Congressional Staff budgets. This is another stupid plan that is just pandering. Congressional staff are needed so that Congress can fulfil its job under the Consitution. Congress is required to provide oversight, pass laws, pass budgets, etc. How in the world can we live in a democracy when there is not an informed congress? Congressional staff are needed if we plan to estimate the cost of various proposals (CBO), and the congressional agency GAO (as pointed out by Coburn), saves the government like $100 for each dollar it costs. What we need is more congressional oversight, not less.
-End life-time judicial appointments. Once again this is another plan that sounds good to some conservatives, but loses elections. A president comes in and wants the authority to appoint alot of new judges. FDR tried this and lost even with huge house and senate majorities. Court packing looks bad.
- I could go on, but for the sake of length will just say that Perry has a lot of ideas and policy plans that sound good to some in the right, but that are national election losers -- big time.
4. He has failed to connect with me. I supported him at first, but was turned off somewhat on his heartless comment. I do not support in-state tuition for illegals, and I am not heartless. His language towards groups has a with him or against him attitude, and I'm not always with him. Plan to cut 3 agencies, but not remembering their names is what is heartless. If you plan to layoff thousands of people, you owe it to them to atleast know what their job is, and what the name of their department is. He campaigns on making cuts -- and I agree that we need to make substancial cuts to the federal government and eliminate thousands of jobs in government -- however, he does so without understanding the departments, and without detailing what cuts will be true cuts, and what will be moved to another department. He comes across as someone who is trying to play doctor. When Gingrich proposes cuts, he appears to understand what he is talking about. His hundreds of billions in cuts are supported by analysis, reports, studies, and actual thought. Much different from Perry's broad cuts that do not appear anything more than political moves that would be horrible policy if implemented.
So, in conclusion, Perry is not the ideal candidate for me. In his campaign he has failed to win the hearts and minds of the GOP. Moving from 1st place to back of the pack. There is nothing that leads me to believe that if he somehow gets elected that he can win the hearts and minds of the country. Had he not declared or run for President until today, I would be looking at him as a possible supporter. His campaign thus far has moved me from someone leaning towards him, to someone who prefers several other candidates above him. If he cannot win over a conservative like myself, and he has lost the support of (according to polls) of 80% of his initial supporters, what are the chances that he can re-gain our support, or the support of others in the time remaining? This is not his year in my opion, but that is not to say that I would not consider him again 8 years from now.