The Texas Governorship is one of the weakest in the country – and we often elect people whose abilities are perfectly matched to the job.
Take our first woman governor, Miriam A. “Ma” Ferguson, elected in 1924. Faced with a bill to provide bilingual education in our schools, she came out against it, declaring that, “If the King’s English was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.”
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The tradition continues with our present incumbent, Rick Perry, whose chief claim to fame has been that he sports a spectacular head of hair. In April, however, he launched himself onto the national stage of right-wing politics by assailing Barack Obama’s economic stimulus program. It expands big government, he wailed, and it intrudes on Texas sovereignty, and By Gollies, he won’t stand for that. Puffing out his chest, the guv declared that if Obama keeps messing with us, Texas could secede from the union.
This threat did not work the way he intended – many people outside the state were delighted by the possibility, while most of the home folks were appalled, for they actually like being both Texans and Americans. Still, Perry insisted it could happen, pointing out that Texas had entered the union under a unique agreement that gave us the right “to leave if we decided to do that.” Good answer, except it is utterly untrue.
Even that didn’t stop him. He’s still declaring what he insists is a principled opposition to taking the federal funds: “We think it’s time to draw the line in the sand and tell Washington that no longer are we going to accept their oppressive hand in the state of Texas.” In fact, though, it turns out he was rejecting only a half-billion of the federal stimulus dollars – out of nearly $17 billion coming to our state. He’s saying no to funds to help working families, but yes to money that’ll go to his supporters.
Apparently, standing on principle ends at half-a-billion bucks – then it’s grab the money and run.
“Astroturf and Grass Top-down and bottom-up demos in town this week,” Austin Chronicle, April 17, 2009.
“Can $555 million buy common sense? Texas House, Perry will weigh in next on whether Texas will accept $555 million in federal aid for unemployment benefits,” www.statesman.com, April 20, 2009.
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