Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rick Perry’s WSJ Interview: Do Perry and Palin bring the “Fourth Turning”?

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 8/24/09


In Saturday’s New York Times Bob Herbert reflects some of the anxiety supporters and loyalists are feeling about Obama. If it turns out that he’s wrong, he writes, “ . . . hold onto your hats. Because right now there is no Plan B.” First call here one year ago was that Obama would be a moment rather than a movement; a feel-good respite before a new political era, as Carter was to Reagan. Obama unquestionably fulfills the hopes and yearnings of a hundred years and completes unfinished business since the Civil War. But a period that fulfills a historic promise is anticlimax to a main event long ago. Its relevance to our day is only to contrast an entirely new political culture which is just ahead. Ideas expressed by Texas governor Rick Perry in a Wall Street Journal interview headlined Fiscal Conservatism and the Soul of the GOP over the weekend could show the way to a new approach.

Key points:

- Texas is now outpacing California economically. As of 2002 (to 2007), with tort reform in place, Texas' annual economic growth jumped to 5%, while California's remained essentially the same at 3.6%.

- Texas created more jobs in 2008 than the rest of the states combined.

- As of July, Texas, which taxes neither capital gains nor income, had an unemployment rate of 7.5%, two points below the national average, while California's hovered at 11.5%, two points above.

- Over half a million people flooded into Texas between 2000 and 2007. Meanwhile, 1.2 million residents left California in the same seven-year period.

Perry, a fiscal conservative, has little regard for the approach of the Obama administration, calling it “ . . . one of the great Frankenstein experimentations in American history. We've seen that movie before. It was from 1932 to 1940." As opposed to "vanilla . . . one size fits all" government, Perry’s "goal is to have states compete against each other. I don't want to look like Connecticut, no offense, I don't want to look like Oklahoma, I don't want to look like California. I want to be uniquely Texas. And that's not to diss anybody else."

At a time when influential conservatives like Charles Krauthammer are falling in line at the Tiny Fey-Letterman-Levi Johnson diss parade, Perry is outspoken in his support for the Alaskan governor: “I love Sarah Palin, I love her positions, I think she was a good governor. . . . I want her to be engaged in this rebuilding of the Republican Party. . . . She is substantially more the face of this country than some other people who might want to be the face of the Republican Party. To me she's the face of America. I mean she's a hard worker, she didn't come from money, she didn't come from privilege, she just worked hard. . . . I have not seen another person who invigorated the Republican base [like she did] with the possible exception of Ronald Reagan in 1976—the speech he made at the Republican Convention. People were looking around and saying, 'we nominated the wrong dude.'"

Since the rise of Obama mainstream political writers have almost universally looked to this administration as the “fourth turning”; the event which would marshal the most influential fourth post-war generation to action and passion much as “the Greatest Generation” did in the 1940s. I felt their estimates were at least ten years off and their predictions did not correctly follow the economic and regional patterns the demographics suggested.

Instead, the critical historic change ahead should be seen to relate to the economic rise of the inland states, the agrarian states and the western states, and the subsequent shift in political influence to those regions featuring Texas in particular. Perry and Palin could be seen now through a glass darkly as original innovators and inspiration to those directions ahead.