WASHINGTON – Many people are holding their breath waiting for Rick Perry to announce whether he will run for president again.
As Perry ponders, among those who wait nervously, are the folks who work at the Department of Commerce, Education and Energy, which Perry presumably still wants to eliminate if elected.
Just the possibility of Perry running again lets us take a delicious moment to remember that “oops” episode when he was listing the three departments in a November 2011 debate and forgot Energy.
“I will tell you,” he began decisively, “it is three agencies of government when I get there (the White House) that are gone. Commerce, Education, and the – What’s the third one there? Let’s see.”
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Since the massive drop in oil prices has hurt the Texas energy business, we doubt he will forget it again. But you never know. The whole country would be on pins and needles if he gets in the race and has to tick them off again, although by now he might take Ron Paul’s advice and name five. But that would be too much of a nail-biting event.
(Also, as Ronald Reagan found out with his very brief fling trying to abolish the Department of Education, presidents can’t go around just deciding to ax whole bureaucracies, much as they might want to do so.)
At any rate, it looks as though Perry will run. He’s changed his hair color often until he apparently got it right. And he got those scholarly black frames for glasses we assume he does need.
Most recently he told Manny Fernandez of The New York Times, a reporter who worries about Texas politics so the rest of us don’t have to, that “I think most people think we’re probably going to run, but we'll announce our intentions in May or June.”
Notice the presidential “we” might run and “we'll” announce the decision later.
Perry has been governor of Texas for 14 years but his stint is ending, along with his paycheck from Texas taxpayers. And his ambition for greater glory is doubtless as big as his state.
So is his confidence. Asked by Fernandez about the impact of lower oil prices on Texas oil and gas production, he said it won’t be as bad as it would have been in the 1980s when the Texas economy collapsed. But he added, “Midland, Odessa, it’s going to be tough. There’s going to be people losing their jobs out there. When you lose your job, that’s a recession, man. Those folks, I’m greatly concerned about.
“But the great story is that people’s lives have been improved substantially in Texas over the last 14 years, and we’ve had our ups and downs.”
Rick Perry. Rand Paul, son of Ron. Mitt Romney. Mike Huckabee. Rick Santorum. Except for sort-of newbie Jeb Bush, it’s deja vu all over again for Republicans. If Harold Stassen, who defined the term “perennial candidate,” weren’t dead, he’d be running too. But so far, we haven’t heard any noise from Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich or Herman Cain.
Perry is 64. Paul is 52. Romney is 67. Huckabee is 59. Santorum is 56. Jeb Bush is 61. There’s no real point here except it’s interesting to know people’s ages. But except for Santorum, who used to be a senator from Pennsylvania but lost his state’s confidence, and Paul, who is currently a senator from Kentucky, all are former governors. That might or might not be important. But it does mean they don’t like Washington, even if they all want to live there.
Meanwhile, back to Perry. Thanks again to Fernandez, we know that he left a biblical message for his successor, Greg Abbott. “If you really want to be great, you must first be a servant,” he said, paraphrasing Matthew 20, verses 25 to 28. It also says “whoever wants to be first must be your slave.”
As for how he will stand out in the crowd of 2016 aspirants, Perry notes that he has a claim nobody else can make: He alone was governor of Texas for 14 years with all its ups and downs.
Ann McFeatters is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may send her email at firstname.lastname@example.org.