So here’s how the Associated Press wire service leads its story on Gov. Rick Perry’s announcement that he won’t seek another term as governor.
Rick Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history who famously muttered “oops” after forgetting during a 2011 presidential debate the third of three federal departments he’d pledged to close, announced Monday he won’t seek re-election next year to a fourth full term.
Rick Perry has been Texas longest-serving and arguably most successful governor. Under his watch, the Texas economy has boomed while the economies of the other large states have mostly stagnated. Perry has battled Democrats in Texas into oblivion as he has battled President Obama’s national Democrats on major energy and security policy. Perry has ushered in a period of small government and gotten the various other statewide elected officials to operate as a team. Texas has done quite well under his watch.
Instead of leading with any of that, the Associated Press chooses one unfortunate moment to define Rick Perry.
That would be fine if the wire would do the same to anyone else in politics. It could choose any number of Barack Obama’s or Hillary Clinton’s gaffes to define them. It could go with Obama’s bizarre claim to have visited 57 states or to want to “spread the wealth around.” It could go with Hillary Clinton’s false claim that she was named after Sir Edmund Hilary or that she came under sniper fire in Bosnia. It could define Obama by his failing health care law or his repressive IRS or his deadly Fast and Furious scandal. It could define Hillary Clinton with her bizarre claim that all of President Bill Clinton’s troubles were the fault of a “vast right-wing conspiracy” instead of his own tendency to abuse his power and womanize, and her longstanding campaign to cripple Bill’s inevitable “bimbo eruptions.”
Obviously it’s too much to expect that the AP treat any Republican fairly, let alone a conservative Republican from Texas. By accentuating the trivial, AP plays up irrelevance and minimizes politicians’ actual records. That’s no accident, as it tends to help Democrats who have built up records of failure by pursuing leftwing policy, and downplays the successes that Perry and other GOP governors such as Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal have had in pursuing smaller-government policies that actually work. The result we tend to get is media-puffed politicians who look good spouting nonsense and who never stop failing as they climb the political ladder.