Had Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) merely stood up to the president on the border crisis he would have been deserving of recognition. He showed calm and competence, neither of which the president evidences these days. But Perry didn’t stop there.
Perry has long been a staunch supporter of Israel (he recently traveled there to open a branch of Texas A&M in Israel). This week when Obama was calling for “restraint” and many other 2016 contenders were nowhere to be found, Perry released a statement, which read:
Israel has an absolute right and responsibility to defend its people against any and all terrorist attacks, including the vicious rocket attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups against civilian targets in Israel’s cities and towns. As Israel’s long-time friend and partner, it’s the United States’ responsibility and honor to stand with the Israeli people during this difficult time. Israel is our closest ally in the Middle East, and we offer our complete solidarity with her today as she faces these attacks with courage and determination. Our prayers are with everyone in danger’s path, as are our hopes for a timely and lasting peace.
That’s as clear and unequivocal as any statement we’ve heard of late, noting that it is the responsibility of the U.S. government to aid Israel.
Perry did not stop there. In bold and sharp terms, he made the case for U.S. leadership and delivered a well-deserved slap at Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who recently proclaimed we have no interest in Iraq — either indifferent to or unaware of the direct threat to the United States posed by the Islamic State. Perry wrote that “it’s disheartening to hear fellow Republicans, such as Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), suggest that our nation should ignore what’s happening in Iraq. The main problem with this argument is that it means ignoring the profound threat that the group now calling itself the Islamic State poses to the United States and the world.” He continued, “Paul still advocates inaction, going so far as to claim in an op-ed last month in the Wall Street Journal that President Ronald Reagan’s own doctrines would lead him to same conclusion. But his analysis is wrong. Paul conveniently omitted Reagan’s long internationalist record of leading the world with moral and strategic clarity.” He then sketched the outlines of his own policy: “As a consequence, there are no good options in Iraq or Syria. The window to shape events for the better passed years ago. The lousy choices we face today are the price of failed leadership. Nonetheless, the president can and must do more with our military and intelligence communities to help cripple the Islamic State. Meaningful assistance can include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sharing and airstrikes. ”
The piece is significant for a number of reasons. It demonstrates that Perry has a big-picture understanding of current events in the Middle East. He — unlike every other potential 2016 contender — takes on Rand Paul with no punches pulled. (Are the rest afraid? Unsure how to tackle him?) In doing so, he aptly separates Paul from the Reagan legacy.
Perry is trying to reintroduce himself to voters and replace the memories of 2012 with the image of a competent commander in chief. This week he made great strides in that direction. For all that we can say, well done, Governor Perry.