Rick Perry Is Back in Austin Doin' Nothin', and That's Right Where We Want Him

Final Rick Perry-for-President footnote? Next to last? Please, no more? Look, there's one more point to drive home here. Then I think I can promise not to mention it again. I think I can.

Now that he's not running for president any more, Perry apparently has returned to his more natural status of very handsome irrelevance. Christy Hoppe had a piece from Austin in The Dallas Morning News reporting that our governor, after coming home from the national hustings, spent a total of nine hours in the office between January 19 and February 3.

His staff told Hoppe that, even if he didn't come to work, the governor was still thinking about stuff and talking on his cell phone. And that was their attempt to make him look good.

But is it a bad thing for Perry not to come in to the office?

Oh, no, no, please don't get me wrong. It's a good thing. The less actual work our governor does, the better off we all are.

But, you ask very fairly, why do I want to talk about it? Why not just shut up about Perry? Good point. But this goes back to the footnote thing and maybe to my own needs as a person.

You may not recall, but last fall I did a great big fat project on Rick Perry's role in the economic success of Texas. I wondered aloud about this to my editors at the time, and now I'm convinced that that there was never a need to do any serious reporting on Perry. I do realize that he sort of begged for it by claiming on the presidential campaign trail that God was on his side and he could accomplish miracles. As campaign promises go, causing miracles is a whopper. I do see that. But as Rick Perry goes, I still say the best reaction would have been to nod and walk away quickly.

I know you will recall that Perry said he was the guy who created high employment rate and economic growth in Texas, which he called "The Texas Miracle." In my work for the miracle story, I interviewed a bunch of experts, including Republican experts. I asked them if Perry had caused our economy to be strong. They basically said, "Oh, yeah, sure, and every year Rick Perry orders the swallows to go back to Capistrano too."

The Texas economy since 1970 has been strong relative to the rest of the country, they told me, because of a continental population shift. They said they didn't think Rick Perry causes continental population shifts. If he could, his first impulse would be to shift all the Yankees and the Mexicans back home.

Everybody knows that for the most part, Perry doesn't do squat. Never has. And that's a good thing. When he suddenly decides to go big picture on us, we get something bad and potentially disastrous out of him like the Trans-Texas corridor, in which he was basically going to sell Texas back to Spain, or we get something potentially good that he totally screws up, like Gardasil.

What we really need from Perry is for him to stay away from the office, be handsome, think about stuff and talk on his cell phone. So according to Hoppe's story we're right back where we need to be. He comes in once a week for a couple hours. His chief of staff says, "Wow, Governor, you are really looking great."

"You think?"

"Oh, yeah."



And he's outta there. We're safe again.

We can thank the framers of the Texas Constitution for giving us a system in which the governor, no matter who he or she may be, is always pretty much irrelevant anyway.

But back to my little footnote. Rick Perry was mainly irrelevant before he ran for president. His cell phone does not go directly to God. He cannot cause miracles. Everybody figured that out. Now he's back in Austin, and he's irrelevant again.

God's in his heaven; Rick Perry's in Austin; all's right with the world. I promise to try to drop it.