Goodbye forever, Rick Perry!

If the Texas governor thinks he'll make his return to political office in the White House, he's sorely mistaken

By Alex Pareene
Published July 9, 2013 12:10PM (EDT)
Rick Perry          (AP/Eric Gay)
Rick Perry (AP/Eric Gay)

Farewell, Rick Perry! We'll miss you, those of us out in fake America, unless Texas is fake America, because of the whole Republic thing, in which case you will be missed in all the various Americas. Because once you are done as governor of your massive, slightly ridiculous oil-soaked state, you will pretty much be done.

Perry is not going to seek a fourth term as governor of Texas, a high-status, low-authority gig that he has worked at longer than anyone else in history. The next governor will likely be Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (Stu Rothenberg is keeping the position listed as "Safe Republican").

Perry isn't just going to go away, or at least he doesn't intend to. He is not going to put on a stupid hat and retire to a ranch that was until very recently named something unspeakably awful. He is going to run for president. Because once a sufficient number of people have convinced an egomaniac that he would be a very good president, it's hard for that egomaniac to let go of that dream, even after a bunch of voters do everything they can to discourage it.

In 2011, we in the rest of America were told to look out for Perry, that he was savvy, a brilliant politician, and that he'd be totally irresistible to the electorate once he made his inevitable decision to run for president. He turned out to be a dunce, completely incompetent at basic tasks like "debating" and "public speaking." Maybe it was pain meds (but then, who decides it's a good idea to jump into a national race while you're on pain meds?), but either way the last presidential campaign was a disaster for the Perry brand. No one in 2016 will be particularly frightened of him, and he also probably won't have the luxury of running against a field made up entirely of clowns and a front-runner no one in the party actually liked.

He's amiable, decent-looking, and right-wing enough to suit the modern Republican Party, but he is also a bit of an idiot and nothing about him appeals to anyone outside his state. Republicans aren't interested in him anymore, even in Texas. Public Policy Polling (a liberal shop, but still) has Hillary Clinton beating Perry 50 to 42 in a potential presidential contest. A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll showed Texas Republicans preferring Sens. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul over their finally outgoing governor. And if they don't want him there's no reason to suggest Republicans anywhere else will want him. "Vote for your dumb right-wing dad" won't work any better in 2016 than it did in 2012.

Still, Perry's decision to join Texas Republicans in provoking a big fight over abortion access does make a bit of sense in this light: He, I guess, wants to be 2016's Rick Santorum, the choice of the fundamentalist set who don't necessarily like the recent rhetorical ascendency of pseudo-moderation and pseudo-libertarianism in the GOP. Rick Santorum still might want to be the Rick Santorum of 2016, of course, but he also might be too busy making Christian movies. (Though none of the major 2016 Republican front-runners, with the possible exception of Jeb Bush, are remotely "moderate" on abortion access, it should be pointed out.)

It is always a happy day when the political careers of mediocre right-wing hacks like Rick Perry come to an end, even if it is by choice and not a forced resignation following a humiliating scandal or exposure of criminal activity. Texas will probably be better off without Rick Perry, even if the next guy is an asshole (and he is probably going to be an asshole), and Rick Perry will get to see his dream end in tears once more in 2016, at which point his only hope to remain in elected office will be a congressional seat or something. Though obviously he will also make a great deal of money "consulting" for some awful rich person or another, so it's not all good news.

Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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