Friday, June 17, 2011

Rick Perry, Ron Paul and the “flatliners"

by Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 6/17/11

Ron Paul said on Fox News Thursday that Texas Governor Rick Perry “doesn’t identify with the people who are disenchanted with the status quo.” But a Texas Lyceum statewide poll conducted a few weeks ago showed Paul ahead of Perry by only an inch, Paul at 10% and Perry at 9%. And Paul has been campaigning constantly now for almost four years while Perry hasn’t even entered the race yet.

Paul is a different man today than when he ran as a quixotic anti-war outsider in 2008. He is part of the establishment; proud and smug at the grownups table after all those years. Today he quips knowing asides about Sarah Palin to the other black suits . . . not one of us, don’t cha know. Today he does interviews with the quintessentially mainstream Al Hunt on Bloomberg TV. Gone are the days when only outsider libertarian and tiny apocalyptic political journals listened. Days when he hoped to shock on Fox by quoting utopian socialist Upton Sinclair: "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross,” - suggesting of course the last Republican administration. I didn’t hear that in the Hunt interview.

The Wall street Journal’s Daniel Henninger, on Rick Perry’s New York visit this week: “Say this—if the Texas governor gets in, you won't see another debate like last Tuesday's GOP flatliner in New Hampshire.”

Paul is no longer the “rooky pest.” He is now one of the flatliners.

Paul was a charming maverick during the war in Iraq, the kind we used to sprout regularly up here in New Hampshire; seemingly touched by the Lord and out of touch with the world. He brought old ideas like the gold standard and Austrian economics into the conversation and they are good ideas. Thanks for sharing. But Perry brings management abilities like those of no other governor and certainly well beyond anything a gadfly like Paul could manage. As Henninger correctly put it, Perry brings to America at large, “Texas, Texas and the Tenth Amendment.” That would be the Texas where up to 40% of new jobs materialize and where California companies are fleeing to.

Tenth Amendment is the stuff and substance of the Tea Party. And economic competition between the states and regions which Perry pioneers is in fact a Petri dish for Hayek and the Austrian economists

And while Paul was till preaching to the few, Rick Perry was thinking of the many. On Dec. 2, 2008, well before the phrase Tea Party was born, he wrote in the Wall Street Journal: “As governors and citizens, we've grown increasingly concerned over the past weeks as Washington has thrown bailout after bailout at the national economy with little to show for it . . . In the process, the federal government is not only burying future generations under mountains of debt. It is also taking our country in a very dangerous direction -- toward a "bailout mentality" where we look to government rather than ourselves for solutions.”

Perry speaks as a governor to other governors like Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, South Carolina’s Nikki Perry, Virginia’s Bob McDonnell, Butch Other of Idaho and others who are revolutionizing governance on a primary Constitutional level. It is a door that has opened that will not be closed.

Paul will always have a useful role. He will be to this rising political sensibility much as Ralph Nader was to the receding cycle of liberalism of the past 40 years. And like Nader, his place will ultimately be on the margins.

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