Political Animal


August 17, 2011 8:00 AM ‘We share the same type of philosophy’

By Steve Benen

Conan O’Brien joked the other day, “Rick Perry is a religious, right-wing conservative who’s a former pilot and the governor of Texas. Finally! One of those!”

The next day, Jon Stewart told viewers, “Rick Perry is not George W. Bush on steroids; Rick Perry is what happens if Lex Luthor distilled down George W. Bush essence in a laboratory and crossed it with gunpowder and semen from the finest thoroughbred in Lubbock — and then strapped that concoction onto a nuclear missile and shot it into the f**king sun.”

I don’t doubt the similarities between Bush and Perry will be analyzed in minute detail in the coming months; it’s inevitable. And for every piece highlighting the subtle differences between the two, there will be another stressing everything they have in common — public office, religiosity, political ideology, military background, and even physical appearance.

For his part, Perry knows the comparisons are coming, and has a prepared answer.

“I am Rick Perry and he is George Bush,” Perry declared as he marched through the Iowa State Fair, surrounded by reporters. “And our records are quite different.”

Asked what the biggest difference is, Perry responded: “I went to Texas A&M. He went to Yale.”

He did not answer when pressed to name a policy difference.

Well, that’s persuasive, right? If Perry were to win the nomination, the Democratic message will be obvious: American can’t go backwards, and it’d be a tragedy to turn to yet another far-right Texas governor.

To which Perry will say, “Don’t worry; Bush and I went to different colleges”?

Given that most Americans are still inclined to blame Bush for the nation’s economic troubles, the Perry campaign’s line may need to be a little stronger.

But that’s easier said than done. Dan Amira recently noted what Perry said in December 2000, when he was poised to become governor as President-elect Bush headed to Washington. “Certainly, you are not going to see a great philosophical difference between Rick Perry and George Bush,” Perry said. “We share the same type of philosophy.”

It’s a quote voters are likely to see quite a bit in the near future.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • MattF on August 17, 2011 8:11 AM:

    Actually, I, um, sort of agree with Perry here. GWB's roots are in New England, and you can bet that everyone in Texas is well aware of that. Perry, on the other hand, can make a reasonable (though I tremble to use that word wrt to Perry) argument that he's the real thing.

  • Danp on August 17, 2011 8:12 AM:

    From a metaphorical standpoint, both Bush and Perry were c+ cheerleaders. Also, Bush majored in business and became a beggar (asking Daddy's friends for seed money in his oil misadventures), and Perry majored in Animal Science and became a cotton farmer. Those that can, do. Those that can't get into politics?

  • c u n d gulag on August 17, 2011 8:15 AM:

    Vote for Perry if you think Little Boots was too intellectual, and insufficientely Jesusey enough
    for you.

    And none of this "Connecticut Yankee in Col. Houstons Court" nonsense, Rick Perry is fluent in genuine frontier gibberish!

  • Werewolf on August 17, 2011 8:27 AM:

    @c u n d gulag:

    You mean like "The (President)'s a n(BONG)!" ?

  • Anon on August 17, 2011 8:29 AM:

    Dubya & Dubya-er

  • c u n d gulag on August 17, 2011 8:33 AM:


    And, "Is that a 10 gallon hat you're wearing, or are you just happy to see me?"

    "Blazing Saddles" is one of the greatest comedies ever made! EVAH!!!

  • SadOldVet on August 17, 2011 8:35 AM:

    Damn it Benen! You keep raining on my parade.

    Just as I was getting ready to trade my Sarah in 2012 button for a Ricky Bobby Perry for Pres button!

  • lou on August 17, 2011 8:38 AM:

    I am a lumper on this. And you can add many millions of others who share their world views. It ain't just Texas that has selected such men but an alien vision of how we should live on earth that we may not exactly believe in but most of us unfortunately do live as participants in this errant way. They think the shit but we do live it. And thus lies some of our angst or tension with such creations of our political system as Bush and Perry.

  • Jerry Elsea on August 17, 2011 8:49 AM:

    When summing up Perry-Bush similarities, don't overlook fondness for capital punishment. Since reinstalling the death penalty 29 years ago, the state of Texas has executed 474. That far exceeds No. 2 in the grim statistics, Virginia with just over 100.

    Governors Bush and Perry signed lots of the death warrants. Perry may come to regret one of them. (See Cameron Todd Willingham.)

    A major campaign issue for 2012? Probably not. Various polls show that the Texas' assembly-line executions notwithstanding, the American public is divided on the death penalty. "No capital punishment" states now total 16. They get along just fine consigning the worst criminals to life without chance for parole.

    But how governors deal with capital punishment makes for fascinating study. They can be grim of visage (then-Democratic Florida Gov. Bob Graham) They can act giddy (then-Texas Gov. Bush).

    Perry seems to fit the latter mold. Why not? Killing people for killing people is a way to look tough.

    Incidentally, the other two top-tier GOP candidates, Bachmann and Romney, hail from states -- Minnesota and Massachusetts, respectively -- that do not have the death penalty. It would be interesting to know how they feel about the ultimate punishment.

  • martin on August 17, 2011 8:50 AM:

    The line probably works well in Texas where "Yale" would be code for "Yankee liberal" and A&M is code for "Right Wing Shit Kicking Cowboy". He's going to have to find a better model of dogwhistle if he wants to take it national.

  • zandru on August 17, 2011 9:18 AM:

    'Bush and I went to different colleges'

    Yeah right - Bush got his Cs & Ds at Yale; Perry got his at (snicker!) Texas A&M. [insert your favorite Aggie joke here]

    "It's orybane" - well, it's some kinda bane...

  • Texas Aggie on August 17, 2011 9:35 AM:

    That Goodhair went to A&M while Shrub went to Yale may actually be significant. At A&M, Goodhair was a CT (Corps Turd) which means he was indoctrinated with an us against them philosophy in which might makes right. Shrub, on the other hand, spent his whole time in an alcoholic daze in an atmosphere that was a lot more conducive to reasonable behavior. Some of it had to wear off on him.

    The upshot is that if you thought things were bad under Bush, you ain't seen nothing yet.

    And zandru, Aggies can make Aggie jokes. Tea sippers can't. Remember that nothing sucks like a big orange.

  • Jilli on August 17, 2011 9:37 AM:

    �I went to Texas A&M. He went to Yale.�

    Translation - "I'm even dumber than GW Bush"

  • DAY on August 17, 2011 9:45 AM:

    I was two years ahead of Bush. I don't remember him. But then, I spent most of my time in classrooms and lecture halls. . .

  • bob h on August 17, 2011 9:54 AM:

    With regard to the Bernanke threats, Perry of course could not tell you the first thing about how the Federal Reserve actually works.

    And isn't such threat-making more appropriate to a tinpot Central American dictatorship than to the leading economy in the world? This stupid shit has no chance of being President.

  • zandru on August 17, 2011 9:56 AM:

    @Texas Aggie: thanks for reminding me of that concise, appropriate phrase "Corps Turd"! You're right about the "us against them" attitude - which, combined with a general belligerence, military dress and demeanor, ceremonial bearing of weapons, AND a feeling of entitledness, makes a particularly ugly combination.

    And, speaking of being "entitled" to make Aggie jokes - I am. Mostly, they're just re-treads on the Polack jokes I grew up with.

    "sather mice" - possibly one of the pests Good-Hair learned about in his animal (snicker!) husbandry classes.

  • david1234 on August 17, 2011 10:02 AM:

    One difference is that George Bush got elected by successfully pretending to be a moderate compassionate conservative. Perry will not be able to do that.

  • The Fool on August 17, 2011 11:03 AM:

    Nope. Once again, Obama already blew it.

    If Obama had been smart he would have made it crystal clear over and over and over again that the bad economy was George Bush's fault. But Middle Man didn't do that. And Middle Man isn't inclined to attack his opponents anyway -- he greatly prefers to bend over and grab his ankles.

    So, sorry Steve but 1) Obama doesn't have the balls and 2) Obama hasn't laid the foundation to make any hay out of the resemblance between Perry and Bush.

  • T2 on August 17, 2011 11:11 AM:

    various points - G.W. Bush was not a born Texan, i.e. he's not from Texas. Perry is.
    either way the two have this in common: both underperformed at their universities and, interestingly, both were cheerleaders in college (actually Bush was a cheerleader, Perry was a Yell Leader).
    The other major similarities....huge ego, very vindictive, talk before thinking, and very macho. The macho part is often adopted by people who are a little insecure for various reasons.

  • T2 on August 17, 2011 11:16 AM:

    david1234, Bush was not elected. He assumed office by a Supreme Court decision that stopped votes from being counted that would have elected Gore. The state involved was Florida, where Bush's brother was the Governor and the State official in charge of statewide voting was the head of the Bush Campaign in Florida.
    The public vote was for Al Gore, not "compassionate conservative" Bush.

  • scott_m on August 17, 2011 11:21 AM:

    You'd think that if Lex Luthor could make something with that much hair, he'd do it to his own head first.

  • rrk1 on August 17, 2011 12:18 PM:

    Taking easy pot shots at Perry is a waste of time. Nothing stuck to Shrub, and nothing will stick to Perry during the primary phase of the clown circus called a 'presidential election cycle'. The zealots and fanatics who buy into Perry's frontier horse excrement, which smells just as bad as any other kind of horse shit, have their Messiah, and won't be persuaded otherwise. Romney et al are all toast. This is an orgasmic moment for the neo-Confederates, the haters, bigots, racists of all stripes. Perry is the anti-Obama, the Great White Hope of the teabaggers, and those denizens in the hinterlands of the homeland who crave for an earlier century when Old Testament religion kept everyone frightened, ignorant and obedient.

    Perry will win the nomination of the badly misnamed GOP. CRP, or crazy reactionary party, is more accurate, and while he may flame out in the general it won't be for want of money or media encouragement.

    Perry is the ideal corporatist president: dumb as a nightstand, and easily bought. He certainly shares those traits with Shrub, except he's even dumber. But that makes him even more dangerous.