Rick Perry is not the second coming of Bush
NRO is abuzz with Gov. Perry's New York swing, with posts by Rich Lowry, Brian Bolduc and Stanley Kurtz. They all seem to be pretty impressed with our governor. It's always interesting to see how folks outside Texas respond to Texas politicians, which can be an acquired taste.
Perry is a memorable speaker. As Kurtz says, he tends to act out what he says, using his face and his arms to create drama and laughs. There's more than a dash of prairie preacher, and a lot of the Aggie yell leader, in Rick Perry. And as Lowry notes, he can be passionate, funny and sincere. The first time I saw Perry speak in person was shortly after I moved back to Texas. I had been out of the state for about 16 years, living in Japan when I was in the Air Force and on the East Coast afterward. I'd moved back home and was working for Texas GOP, and was attending a RightOnline forum in Austin, May or June 2009. The forum was small, with maybe 20 or so in attendance. Perry was the keynote, and delivered a great little stemwinder that hit on two subjects. Neither was about him per se, which by itself is fairly unusual for a politician. I'd gotten used to hearing Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley turn every single subject back into some way to glorify himself, never mind that he had never quite delivered on his mayoral promise to clean up Baltimore's rampant crime. But Perry talked about the Texas economy, and about social media. His speech was off the cuff and at times hilarious, particularly when he picked at the mainstream media and Obama's economic policies, which he confidently predicted would make things worse. His economic riff was smart and clear, to the point that I remember much of it two years later, and it has held up very well alongside the facts of the Texas economy. His economic philosophy, which he repeats often, is to keep the government small, the regulatory environment fair and predictable, and for government not to spend all the money -- and mostly, just keep the government out of the way.
Perry talked about social media because he was speaking at a social media event, and he made it very clear that he really does get social media. I do social media for a living; Perry really understands social media. He had already picked up and mastered twitter and spent a few minutes evangelizing about it and pointing out that social media is one way to break the mainstream media's stranglehold on the national conversation. (Anthony Weiner's scandal would eventually demonstrate the pitfalls of twitter, but also prove Perry right about social media forcing the MSM to cover a story.)