Skip to main content

Cowboy Rick Perry will ride again -- in 2016

By James Moore, Special to CNN
updated 9:15 AM EDT, Wed July 10, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • James Moore: Rick Perry says he won't run for governor again but was vague on future plans
  • Moore: Perry will run for president, even though his extremism is out of step
  • Perry will use remaining time in office to raise money, launch Super PAC, he says
  • Moore: He gave millions to corporations but has abysmal record on education, health care

Editor's note: James C. Moore is a business consultant and principal at Big Bend Strategies. He is co-author of "Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential" and "Adios Mofo: Why Rick Perry Will Make America Miss George W. Bush," and an on-air TV political analyst.

(CNN) -- In most of the old TV Westerns, there was a moment at the end where the cowboy rode away. He's delivered justice, empowered the townsfolk and ended the crisis. The good guy knows he will be needed elsewhere.

It's mythology, of course; the historical American West was bloody and brutal and often without honor. But there were still a lot of people who hoped the cowboy icon was precisely the self-image Texas Gov. Rick Perry was realizing as he took the stage to make an announcement about his "exciting future plans."

But this is not the scene where the cowboy rides away. It's a bit more like the one where he refuses to leave the saloon and has to be thrown out onto the street.

James C. Moore
James C. Moore

In spite of promoting his Monday event in San Antonio for a week, Perry didn't speak in any detail about his plans. Democrats and progressives had a bit of excitement, however. The governor said he was not running for re-election to the state's top political job. It will be 18 months before Perry leaves office after a 14-year tenure as the longest-serving governor in Texas history. And that final year and a half and what he's going to do with it is where Perry exercised his skills at being politically vague.

Which is why pundits tend to say Perry is hard to predict. But he's not. Since the day he switched political parties under the tutelage of Karl Rove almost a quarter century ago, Perry has been an extreme conservative who gave away hundreds of millions in taxpayer money to corporations. And when the tea party metastasized into Texas politics, he walked his conservatism over to the right edge of the flat earth.

His lust for guns and God and his hatred of abortion rights and gay rights make him a strong Republican primary candidate among the activist voters, but an unlikely voice for most of America seeking a president in 2016.

But he's still going to try, bless his heart.

Perry will use his remaining time in office to raise money. The signal for this was the site of his announcement, which was a Caterpillar plant outside San Antonio. The manufacturer's chief executive reportedly has given Perry more than $680,000 since he became governor, and Caterpillar received millions in tax abatements and a $10 million grant from the Texas Enterprise Fund, which has disproportionately awarded money to generous Perry campaign donors.

An Emerging Technology Fund and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas offered the same fiduciary delights for GOP business leaders that are believers in Perry. In fact, the institute's operation was so political all of the top scientists drawn to the project resigned and the district attorney in Austin launched a criminal investigation. When the district attorney was arrested on a driving while intoxicated charge, however, Perry vetoed funding for her unit, which was investigating his potential misconduct. Case closed.

2012: Perry: In his own words
Showdown over abortion in Texas

It's good to be king. And he kind of is in Texas.

No one should expect anything new out of Perry. He will keep traveling the country annoying other state leaders while talking about jobs in Texas and acting like he persuaded God to pour dinosaur wine into our soil and then seduced California tech companies into moving where real estate and labor are less expensive. Texas has always been a job engine because of natural resources, weather and people, not politicians.

No mention will be made by Perry of the fact that a large number of jobs lured to Texas using taxpayer money are minimum wage, nor will he talk about how Texas is 50th in the percentage of population with a high school diploma, or how it's first in the nation with 28.8% uninsured.

The governor will keep arguing against Obamacare regardless of the fact it insures 3 million more Texans and reduces the uninsured overall to 12%. Don't expect him to detail, either, that his state is 50th in per capita spending on health care, 51st in benefits for the Women, Infants and Children program, and, even though he is pushing abortion restrictions, Perry will certainly not let anyone know he presides over a state ranked 50th in the percentage of women receiving prenatal care in their first trimesters.

And if his leadership has been so inspiring, why is it that Texas is also last in the percentage of the voting age population that actually votes?

Instead, look for Perry to associate more publicly with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative state think tank founded by one of his biggest donors. He'll try to gin up a little gravitas on issues, work on keeping three items in his head at one time, and launch a Super PAC that he can use to support conservative candidates in 2014, and then call upon them for returned favors when he runs in 2016.

The two Super PACs associated with his previous presidential stumble have about $500,000 already, and Perry has been consistently skilled at leveraging the governor's office to raise cash for his political fantasies.

The Texas governor has a good life. And he knows it. He's already drawing his $7,698 a month pension from the state, and his $150,000 salary, living in a beautiful mansion in downtown Austin, and traveling on jets with an entourage of security and sycophants. But that's nothing compared with being president. So, no, the cowboy isn't riding away. He's hanging around the saloon.

And trying to get another drink.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions in this commentary are solely those of James C. Moore.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:03 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
updated 5:52 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette notes that this fall, minority students will outnumber white students at America's public schools.
updated 5:21 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Humans have driven to extinction four marine mammal species in modern times. As you read this, we are on the brink of losing the fifth, write three experts.
updated 7:58 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It's been ten days since Michael Brown was killed, and his family is still waiting for information from investigators about what happened to their young man, writes Mel Robbins
updated 1:23 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Sally Kohn says the Ferguson protests reflect broader patterns of racial injustice across the country, from chronic police violence and abuse against black men to the persistent economic and social exclusion of communities of color.
updated 8:42 AM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
The former U.K. prime minister and current U.N. envoy says there are 500 days left to fulfill the Millennium Goals' promise to children.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Julian Zelizer says the left mistrusts Clinton but there are ways she can win support from liberals in 2016
updated 1:38 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Peter Bergen says the terror group is a huge threat in Iraq but only a potential one in the U.S.
updated 1:34 PM EDT, Sat August 16, 2014
Mark O'Mara says the way cops, media, politicians and protesters have behaved since Michael Brown's shooting shows not all the right people have learned the right lessons
updated 11:23 AM EDT, Sun August 17, 2014
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says the American military advisers in Iraq are sizing up what needs to be done and recommending accordingly
updated 3:41 PM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Marc Lamont Hill says the President's comments on the Michael Brown shooting ignored its racial implications
updated 5:46 PM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Joe Stork says the catastrophe in northern Iraq continues, even though many religious minorities have fled to safety: ISIS forces -- intent on purging them -- still control the area where they lived
updated 6:26 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Tim Lynch says Pentagon's policy of doling out military weapons to police forces is misguided and dangerous.
updated 9:15 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
S.E. Cupp says millennials want big ideas and rapid change; she talks to one of their number who serves in Congress
updated 7:57 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Dorothy Brown says the power structure is dominated by whites in a town that is 68% black. Elected officials who sat by silently as chaos erupted after Michael Brown shooting should be voted out of office
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Bill Schmitz says the media and other adults should never explain suicide as a means of escaping pain. Robin Williams' tragic death offers a chance to educate about prevention
updated 11:05 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Nafees Syed says President Obama should renew the quest to eliminate bias in the criminal justice system
updated 4:24 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Eric Liu says what's unfolded in the Missouri town is a shocking violation of American constitutional rights and should be a wake-up call to all
updated 3:22 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Neal Gabler says Lauren Bacall, a talent in her own right, will be defined by her marriage with the great actor Humphrey Bogart
updated 6:56 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Bob Butler says the arrest of two journalists covering the Ferguson story is alarming
updated 4:35 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Mark O'Mara says we all need to work together to make sure the tension between police and African-Americans doesn't result in more tragedies
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Pepper Schwartz asks why young women are so entranced with Kardashian, who's putting together a 352-page book of selfies
updated 7:08 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Michael Friedman says depression does not discriminate, cannot be bargained with and shows no mercy.
updated 11:25 AM EDT, Tue August 12, 2014
LZ Granderson says we must not surrender to apathy about the injustice faced by African Americans
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT