A disgraced Perry returns to Texas

Governor finally bows out of GOP race, but only after making mockery of himself and our state

Rick Perry

Gov. Rick Perry

After months of holding their breaths in dread of what Rick Perry might do or say next on the national stage, Texans are now witnessing the ignominious return of their governor to the state.

Everyone knew Perry would eventually be on his way back, but clarity suddenly and inexplicably has also come to the befuddled candidate earlier than expected. Just two days before the South Carolina primary Perry announced Thursday, Jan. 19 at a press conference he was finally giving up his fruitless bid for the presidency. “There is no viable path forward for me in the 2012 campaign,” he said to a national audience that undoubtedly chanted back to the television screen, “It’s about time!”

When Perry gets back to the $10,000-per-month rented house afforded him by state taxpayers, he will be regarded by most Texans in a vastly different light from when he left after announcing his presidential political ambitions in August. Once the pride and joy of conservatives here, Perry had fallen to third in his home state behind Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, according to Public Policy Polling, a Democratic group that polled 559 Texas Republican primary voters Jan. 12-15.

The same poll results suggest that for once Republicans and Democrats agree strongly on something — Perry has fractured the state’s image with a multitude of missteps and misstatements that often bordered on the surreal. Of Republican voters 39 percent said they viewed Perry’s candidacy as having cast the state in a negative light, in comparison to 13 percent that viewed it as a positive, according to the poll.

In contrast Texas Congressman Ron Paul, whose libertarian philosophy led to his being pegged as a “fringe” candidate by the media, fared much better than Perry. Only 28 percent of Republican voters said Paul’s candidacy has hurt the state’s image, while 19 percent said it was an enhancement.

As a practical matter, the poll results only confirm what had already become obvious to many people who were accustomed to hearing strong support for Perry during casual political debates. The most ardent of former Perry supporters apparently are too embarrassed to speak up for him anymore. Many people clearly are wondering how Perry’s inability to think and talk at the same time had gone undetected for so long before God told him to run for president.

Even prominent gay Dallas Republican Rob Schlein — who vowed early on he would vote for Perry if he was the Republican nominee for president regardless of the governor’s legendary anti-gay rhetoric — took to bashing Perry on Facebook because of the candidate’s poor performances. The loss of support from Schlein — who recently vowed he would vote for the ultra-conservative Rick Santorum if he becomes the nominee — illustrates just how far Perry’s political fortunes have sunk.

To make the situation even more annoying, Perry’s candidacy has cost Texas taxpayers quite a bit of money for his protection while on the campaign trail. Security costs for Perry incurred by the Texas Department of Public Safety amounted to about $400,000 per month, according to a Texas Tribune examination of the agency’s records.

David-Webb

David Webb | The Rare Reporter

The financial analysis would suggest that Perry’s decision to continue on with his presidential campaign after coming in fifth place in the Iowa caucus cost Texans another needless several hundred thousand dollars in security costs. His resolve to proceed in New Hampshire and South Carolina after strongly hinting following the Iowa thrashing that he was about to give up and head home left many Texans bewildered.

In Perry’s campaign speeches he pointed toward the South Carolina primary as the deal-breaker for him if he could not get the state’s conservative religious voters behind him.

Presumably it finally dawned on Perry that he was in store for another humiliating failure, seeing as how he was in last place in the polls with only about 6 percent supporting him, after the conservative religious establishment decided in a meeting in Texas last weekend to throw its support behind Rick Santorum.

In making the announcement he would drop out of the race and that he would endorse Newt Gingrich, Perry said, “I know when it is time to make a strategic retreat.” That was a statement that many will likely view as humorous, given the governor’s apparent long delay in coming to that realization.

In fairness to the governor, it’s no doubt a difficult task for a political candidate who has never before lost an election to return home in disgrace. It doesn’t help matters much that while Perry was on the campaign trail a gay former Texas legislator, Glen Maxey, published a book with anonymous sources claiming the governor is a closeted hypocrite who engaged in a past secret homosexual life. The governor’s campaign denounced the book as a pack of lies, but the publication of a book expanding on the rumors that have plagued him for six years must at the very least be frustrating — even if they possibly did happen to be true.

As the longest-serving governor in Texas history with 11 years under his cowboy buckle belt, Perry destroyed his reputation as a strong governor on the presidential campaign trail. He went from double-digit frontrunner status ahead of Mitt Romney — the likely nominee barring a new surge by one of the other three candidates in the up-and-down race — to last place.

Ever the optimist, Perry declared with his wife and son by his side that he wasn’t disenchanted and he wasn’t discouraged to be packing up and heading home. He declared that he felt rewarded for having followed the “calling” to run for president. “And this I know, I’m not done fighting for the cause of conservatism,” Perry said. “As a matter of fact, I have just begun to fight.”

It appeared that at the end of the announcement Perry was again drifting off into that mindset that got him into the race in the first place. It was unclear where Perry planned to wage that fight now that his campaign is over, but he assured viewers, “Things are going to be good no matter what I do.”

Maybe he was referring to the luxury in which he and wife Anita undoubtedly will be living for the rest of their lives, because it’s not likely to be a continuation of his successful political career.  Or maybe he is hoping for some sort of political appointment or an opportunity from the business leaders he has courted as governor.

One thing is for sure, the “God and Country,” Bible-thumping proclamations that kept winning Perry re-elections to the governor’s office failed him on the national stage for president, and it’s a pretty good bet that it will never again serve him quite as well in Texas politics. And it’s a good thing for the governor that he became wealthy as a career office-holder because his political eulogy is now being drafted by pundits nationwide.

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has reported on LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative media for three decades. Email him at
davidwaynewebb@hotmail.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 20, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Republican DA hopeful visits Log Cabin — PLUS, full text of Rob Schlein’s intro for John Cornyn

Danny Clancy

Danny Clancy, the Republican candidate for Dallas County District Attorney, will speak at Log Cabin Republicans’ monthly meeting on Monday night, Sept. 27.

Rob Schlein, president of Log Cabin, said Clancy’s campaign manager approached him and asked whether the candidate could address the group.

“I think it’s his first time to our club, and I think it may be the first time we’ve had a DA candidate.” Schlein said, adding that he thinks District Attorney Craig Watkins, the Democratic incumbent, is “vulnerable.”

“I think Dallas County’s going to go red,” Schlein said. “Republican voters are energized about this election, and Democratic voters are not.”

The meeting is at Mattito’s Restaurant, 3011 Routh St., at 6:30 p.m. Monday.

Also, Schlein sent over the full text of his remarks last week, when he introduced Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn at a reception prior to Log Cabin’s National Dinner in Washington, D.C. We’ve posted Schlein’s Cornyn intro in its entirety below.

—  John Wright

Critics give Texas GOP platform too much weight

Log Cabin Dallas president responds to critcism of Republican Party, state platform and gay GOP group’s effectiveness

ROB SCHLEIN | Guest columnist

I agree with Hardy Haberman (“A platform of ideas — bad ideas,” Dallas Voice, June 25) that when it comes to LGBT issues, the Texas GOP platform contains some vehement rhetoric.

Where I completely disagree is his inflated sense of the significance of the platform, his view that Log Cabin Republicans has done little to moderate the party and the impact of the Tea Party.

I could go on and on about the platform writing process, how it’s controlled by the extremists of our party, and how the old guard scheduled the Texas Republican Convention to make it difficult to have honest debate on the floor.

What is more important is to understand the real impact the platform has on Republican legislative priorities.

The fact is, Hardy Haberman is absolutely wrong in believing the platform is used as a litmus test for candidate recruitment and that it’s the basis for legislative decisions. Even those that participate on platform committees would admit to that. Their number one complaint is that legislators do not govern by the platform.

Legislators understand the platform is a way for a small minority of hard-liners to vent their beliefs. They recognize that it contains many planks, not just the ones on “homosexuals,” that aren’t consistent with the views of the general voting public and do not represent the views of rank and file Republican voters.

Additionally, those who recruit candidates and support them with the most funds to their campaigns are outside the Texas GOP structure, and they don’t have an interest in demonizing gays.
Haberman fails to see how the efforts of Log Cabin have had any effect on the Texas GOP. If he is so narrowly focused on the belief that the platform is the complete and almost biblical metric of success, then it would be hard to discern our achievement.

A better measure for our accomplishments, though, is the willingness of legislators to reach back to us when we reach out. Some that Dallas Voice labels as “anti-gay” attended important Log Cabin events: Texas State Rep. Dan Branch and Congressman Pete Sessions.

Others important to the Texas GOP that have visited Log Cabin include U.S. Senate candidate Michael Williams (former railroad Commissioner), Dallas County GOP Chairman Jonathan Neerman, Dallas County Commissioner Maurine Dickey and candidate for governor Debra Medina, who now leads a large political group called “We Texans.”

Naturally, people like Haberman love to complain when others use language that is vehement. Yet he engages in similar language when he says that, “The politically astute will note that most of these changes seem to be a bow to the ‘tea baggers’ and are simply appeasements never to be written into law.”

The term “tea bagger” is no less offensive to me that than the word “faggot.”

Tea Partiers are natural allies to our community. They don’t have a dog in the fight when it comes to combating gays and their aspirations. In fact, just the opposite is true.

Their views on social issues lean libertarian — “live and let live,” “get government out of our lives and our bedrooms.” Their focus is on economic security (reducing the deficit) and keeping our country safe.

Ken Emanuelson, a board member of the Dallas Tea Party, spoke at Log Cabin’s Grand Ol’ Party. And just this week the Republican Liberty Caucus issued a press release condemning the anti-homosexual planks of our platform.

I wonder, too, how Hardy Haberman discerns between planks that appease when he complains that the same planks are the basis for a legislative agenda? Has he ever considered that the passages on “homosexuals” are appeasements never to be written into law?

Lastly, our party’s leadership has changed. Cathie Adams, one of the most strident anti-gay activists, was defeated by Steve Munisteri in a contested race for state party chair. I talked to Steve by phone early in his campaign, and he believes gays should be included in our party.

The defeat of Cathie Adams should have merited a large headline in the Dallas Voice.

And, although I lost my precinct chairman’s race by three votes out of 800 cast against Homer Adams (Cathie’s husband), it’s clear to me that activists of her ilk are on the decline.

Our acceptance and welcoming by Dallas Young Republicans confirms that on questions of gay rights, views are shifting.

Would we like our platform more to our liking? Certainly.

Does the platform in its present form mean Log Cabin isn’t making a difference? Does it mean we should bolt from our party when we agree with Republican principles of limited, smaller, lower cost and efficient government, and disagree with the many actions taken by the Obama administration that have exploded our deficits, placed new burdens on gay business owners and stunted job creation?

Do we abandon our party with which we agree on principles of strong national security and an unapologetic support of Israel for the Democrats who appease our enemies that murder men for just being gay?

Do we switch parties for the “hope” of gay rights as narrowly defined by people like Hardy Haberman? No!

Log Cabin Republicans is making an impact here at home, and nationally with our new executive director, a former Bush appointee and Iraq War veteran.

If Hardy Haberman doesn’t see the impact we are having, it means he isn’t looking.

Rob Schlein is the president of Log Cabin
Republicans of Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 02, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas