Why Rick Perry didn’t debate in this last governor’s race

It has become painfully apparent to many of the governor supporters why Rick Perry did not choose to debate Mayor Bill White in his last governor’s race and that he was wise to not do so. Recent events in the presidential race indicate Perry is not a very good debater, does not think well on his feet, and embarrassing facts seem to emerge every time he makes such a high-profile appearance.

Perry attempted to revive his declining image by attacking Republican primary leader Mitt Romney by suggesting the Romney medical plan created while governor is the precursor to “Obamacare.” Romney handled it very well by pointing out that Massachusetts has less than 1 percent of its children without medical insurance, while Perry’s state, Texas, leads the nation with over a million children without health care.

It seems all of Perry’s efforts blow up in his face. Perry refused to disavow a right-wing religious preacher who chose to belittle the Mormon religion as a cult, demonstrating that perhaps Perry is less than enamored with such a thing as religious freedom in the United States.

Perry would like to join the chorus of Republican candidates who want to criticize President Obama for approving the federal grant given to Solyndra, but is in no position to do so. (Solyndra is a company attempting to develop solar power.) The criticism is the federal government gave a large sum of money to a company that failed. Unfortunately, Perry has a hard time with such criticism in view of the fact he has given away more than $300 million in Texas tax money to companies whose principals have given Perry $70 million in campaign contributions. Many of them have turned out to be real busts. A medical company, for example, received several millions from Perry’s slush fund, agreeing to furnish at least 1,200 new jobs in Texas. With recent layoffs, their job numbers are down to less than 400.Recently Perry was also criticized for the fact that some of his other buddies were paid $45 million in taxpayer money to distribute $1 billion in federal grant money from Hurricane Ike. Though they were able to give Perry huge campaign gifts in a timely fashion, the company has distributed less than 20 percent of the federal grant to the needy Texans who are entitled to it.

What Perry has demonstrated to America is that catchy phrases and Chamber of Commerce clichés can be real cute. They can be very helpful in “wowing” a conservative crowd in a short speech. They do not stand up well, however, under close examination, in practice and under withering retort from a skilled competitor in a debate.

Perry now wants to join in with the call at the national level for a balanced budget amendment. It will be only a short time before someone snaps to the fact we have such an amendment in the Texas Constitution. Perry and his legislative team have found innovative ways to ignore it. In spite of our constitutional mandate against the state going in debt, on Perry’s watch, Texas now owes more than $170 million for highway construction.

I’m certain it will also not be long before one of his Republican primary opponents wakes up to the reason Perry is having such a hard time articulating his economic policy. It is simple — give away taxpayer money to corporations, ignore pollution and shortchange our school children.

Looking at the Perry campaign for president tells us a lot about what’s important to Republicans. Even though Perry bombed on three debates and has a mediocre record in providing health and jobs for the people of Texas and cannot articulate a plan to better the economics of the nation, Republican operatives still say he is a viable candidate. Why do the Republican experts think Perry is a viable candidate to lead the United States of America? Of all reasons, because he can raise big bucks from multi-millionaires. That says a lot about the Republican Party and about who Rick Perry would be concerned about were he to be elected president of this nation.

Carl Parker has practiced law in Port Arthur since 1958. He is a 1958 graduate of the University of Texas School of Law. Elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1962 and the Senate in 1976, Parker continued to practice law while writing and sponsoring hundreds of bills that became laws relating to every aspect of life in Texas, including many regarding consumer safety.