JACKSON – Though denying to NBC’s Andrea Mitchell a report he was advising Texas Gov. Rick Perry in his GOP presidential bid, Gov. Haley Barbour proceeded to say Perry should ignore what Barbour called “liberal media nitpicking” of Perry’s extremist views.
Barbour said he didn’t think it was offensive that Perry had referred to FED chairman Ben Bernanke as “treasonous” and that “we would treat him pretty ugly if he came down to Texas.” Significantly, Bernanke was first appointed by Perry’s fellow Texan, George W. Bush when he was president from 2001 to 2009.
Although George W. Bush as Texas governor lifted Perry in 1999 to become lieutenant governor – and succeeded him in the top Texas job when Bush became president in 2001 – the Bush and Perry political camps have been estranged for several years. When Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison ran against Perry’s re-election in 2010, the Bush forces, led by strategist Karl Rove, backed Hutchison. Perry won handily.
Actually, the report in DC’s Roll Call magazine that Barbour would be one of Perry’s advisers pretty much confirms how the Mississippi governor has been leaning ever since he dropped out of the GOP race for the 2012 Republican nomination. Significantly, while Barbour implied to Mitchell that liberal media can be counted on to trap “conservative, Christian Southerner” candidates, it was a friendly conservative journal, The Weekly Standard, quoting Barbour as praising the white Citizens’ Councils, that proved to be Barbour’s undoing.
Barbour in the interview avoided talking about Mississippi’s bottom level ranking in economic and social services, but he praised Perry’s record on job growth and economic development.
The “Texas Miracle” is how Perry is framing his 10-year record on the presidential campaign trail. Last Sunday The Washington Post showed in a lengthy article that despite Perry’s Reaganesque charge that the government is the “problem not the solution” to job growth, much of Texas’ job growth (he claims 1 million over 10 years) has come from government, not the private sector. The Post revealed that between 2007 and 2009 private sector employment dropped 0.6 percent while government employment rose 6.4 percent.
Other published reports said that 40 percent of private sector jobs added were minimum wage jobs. Census Bureau figures show 9.5 percent of Texas’ workforce is paid at or below federal minimum wage, tied, incidentally, with Mississippi.
Texas is also last nationally in the number of people covered by health care coverage, with Mississippi the next lowest.
Perry has called Social Security a “ponzi scheme” and tried to teach creationism in Texas public schools. More disturbing to many is his tie to the religious right. Among the sponsors at his recent “Christian day of prayer” in Houston were several well-known fundamentalist evangelists, including the Rev. John Hagee, pastor of a San Antonio mega-church known for his anti-gay and anti-Muslim views.
As my friend and ex-newsman Mack Gordon recalled the other day, Perry in his 2001 inauguration as Texas governor pledged “I don’t want Texas to be the next Mississippi.” Maybe Haley won’t be so wild about Perry.
Columnist Bill Minor of Jackson has covered Mississippi politics since 1947. Contact him through Ed Inman at email@example.com.