It is getting harder to do what smart political observers says should never be done to Rick Perry: underestimate him. As Ed points out, the governor’s latest proposal to shrink government isn’t serious — it can’t pass — and it isn’t a good idea. Those are characteristics of Perry’s campaign so far — bad ideas that would be seriously concerning if they weren’t impossible to begin with.
Dig a little deeper into Perry’s proposal to discover the method to his madness. Rick Perry likes power, and he has greatly strengthened the historically weak office of the Texas governor by usurping some of the legislature’s responsibilities. That is at the heart of Perry’s proposal — downsize Congress. True, he would also eliminate some executive agencies, but a part-time federal legislature would only serve to tip the balance of power even more to the western side of Pennsylvania Avenue.
Ed’s post also laments the way candidates run against Washington when the only way they can ultimately succeed is to govern within its odd and increasingly cranky restraints. I would note that Democrats in Congress were more accommodating of George W. Bush when he came to town despite his tenuous victory: Their votes, after all, gave him his signature domestic “achievement”: his tax cuts. President Obama faced virtually unanimous Republican opposition on his first day, summarized by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s famous quote on Obama’s health-care legislation: “The single most important thing we can achieve is for Obama to be a one-term president.”
McConnell and others of his ilk may get their way, until the next president faces his or her wall of opposition. The fact that increasing numbers of our citizens are giving up on our political process is disturbing; the fact that many politicians are, too, is appalling.