Hey, Rick Perry, Listen. Is That a Fat Lady You Hear Singing?
Is it too soon and maybe even bad luck to say this out loud? Is it even possible that Governor Oops could be over? I'm knocking on wood, tossing salt over my shoulder, making the sign of the cross with my index fingers and looking for garlic in the kitchen as I speak, I promise.
But yesterday conservative Flower Mound Republican Jane Nelson led the Texas Senate to vote for serious reform of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), which Governor Rick Perry has used notoriously and flamboyantly as a political patronage slush fund and which is now under criminal investigation.
In so doing, Nelson made common cause with Dallas Democrat Royce West, who said of CPRIT's management, "If a common thief had done this, they would be so far under the jail, we would have to pump sunlight to them."
Even more encouraging for Oops-watchers, the Texas House yesterday voted down private school vouchers, long an absolute mainstay of Oops's personal platform. You could almost say if Rick Perry can't get vouchers done, he may need to go get somebody else to call his dog.
There are some really serious instances of damage that Perry can still do to Texas, notably his long campaign to undermine University of Texas President Bill Powers and maul the university in the process. Probably the only factor slowing down that especially ugly juggernaut is the collateral damage it would do to the governor's own beloved alma mater, Texas A&M.
Oops and an oil-man buddy want to carry out a kind of Taliban jihad against university research in general, which they consider too pointy-head. The scary thing is that someday the light-bulb will come on over their heads, and they will say, "We're a'gin all research 'cept for cows." Then the powerful A&M alumni might stop dragging their heels and join him.
Ultimately for Texas, Rick Perry has not been our real problem. The much more grave and ongoing challenge has been the apparent domination of the entire state by the Pissed-Off White People (TEA) Party. Certainly a frightening index has been the attempt by U.S. Senator John Cornyn, formerly a fairly reasonable and honest human being, to outlandishly out-lie freshman Senator Ted ("Count me a Wacko Bird") Cruz in dishonest attacks on Obamacare.
But if Texas is tired of Oops, could it also be getting tired of the POW-PP (TEA) Party? Look: the POW-PPs have been the main driving force behind the private school voucher (tax-money-for-Jesus) campaign in Texas. They just took it in the ear.
I'm as dicey as anybody about getting optimistic here. I was way too superstitious to put personal faith in the stories last January saying polls were showing that Texans were tired of Perry. The thing about Oops is this: He's had one foot in the grave before.
In 2006, when 61 percent of Texans voted against him, he still got elected, becoming the first governor of Texas since 1861 to win election with less than 40 percent of the vote.
In 2009 when Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison first took him on for governor, she started out 25 points ahead of him in the polls, and by the onset of the Republican primary 2010 she was killing him in fund raising
But you remember how that went, right? Governor Oops' Yankee campaign adviser Dave Carney told him to tilt way right of her and appeal to the pissed off white people. He did just what Carney told him and beat Hutchison in the primary by 20 points.
Perry may be stupid, but he's not dumb. Beneath that oopsie-daisical exterior there's some shrewd country-boy horse-trader stuff going on. He's not over until he's over.
But can't we at least take some modest encouragement from what's been happening in the Leg lately, and when was the last time that thought even occurred to us? I'm just saying: It's possible, just possible, that Texas may not have to be the Bad Ship Oopsie forever. Maybe the notion of Texas actually trending blue is more than the bizarre sexual fantasy of people who speak French in New York City.
Maybe, maybe not, eh? OK, I just found the damn garlic. Anyway, if I'm wrong about all this, I suggest we go for a compromise and accept a ban on all science except for cows plus dogs. We could live with that, right? Look what we've lived through already.
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