Four summers ago, 73 percent of Republicans were satisfied with the candidates seeking the 2008 GOP presidential nomination. Now, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll revealed on Wednesday, only 45 percent of Republicans are happy with today's 2012 contenders.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, 61, could cure the GOP's ennui. As America's economy slumbers, Perry tells a stimulating story about Texas' pro-market growth and job creation, two subjects that top the American mind.
Between January 2001 and June 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates, Texas' non-farm employment grew from 9,542,400 in January 2001, when Perry took office, to 10,395,800 in June 2010 — an increase of 853,400 or 8.9 percent. Big-government California simultaneously lost 827,800 jobs.
Employment in Texas grew more than in the other 49 states combined. Since June 2009, when the Great Recession officially ended, Texas has produced 265,300 net jobs, equal to 36.7 percent of the 722,200 positions created nationwide.
For seven years running, CEOs polled by Chief Executive magazine have rated Texas first in business development and job growth. Texas boasts 58 Fortune 500 companies — more than any other state.
As America's No. 1 exporting state, Texas shipped $206.6 billion in goods abroad last year, composing 16 percent of America's $1.28 trillion in exports. California's $14.4 billion in exports ranked it second, with 11.2 percent of U.S. outflow.
Texas' achievements so stunned Gavin Newsom, California's Democratic lieutenant governor, that he flew a delegation to Austin last May to ask Perry how he lures defectors from the Golden State. Of the 70 companies that fled California in 2011, The Wall Street Journal's John Fund reported last April, 14 relocated to Texas — these exiles' primary destination.
So, what is Perry's secret? Texas taxes neither personal incomes nor capital gains, and Perry proposed a 2010 constitutional amendment to require two-thirds super-majorities to legislate tax hikes. Beyond that, as Perry told Manhattan Republicans Tuesday, "don't spend all the money."
Perry advised "a regulatory climate that is fair and predictable" as well as "a legal system that doesn't allow for over-suing." Thus, Perry signed groundbreaking "loser pays" tort-reforms and medical-litigation rules that caused malpractice-insurance rates to fall. Some 20,000 doctors since have flooded Texas.
Texas is a right-to-work state, which Perry should trumpet nationally. He should demand a woman's right to choose . . . whether to join a union. On Dec. 21, 2000, while Illinois State Sen. Barack Obama was casting some of his 129 "present" votes, Perry took over a state government that now features some 384,000 workers and a $172.5 billion biennial budget.
While Obama's oratory often soars, he sometimes seems disengaged and indecisive — as if the Oval Office were a training facility. As Texas' governor for a record 10 years, Perry's executive experience is quadruple Obama's.
Perry's biggest challenge may be that he is the governor of Texas. Americans suffered through the mitigated disaster that was George W. Bush's presidency. They may recoil at electing another commander in chief from Austin.
Perhaps more worrisome for Perry are his appearance and mannerisms. At a well-delivered speech to the Heritage Foundation's Resource Bank in Dallas on April 28, Perry did not quite resemble Bush. However, he mirrored actor James Brolin's portrayal of the 43rd president in Oliver Stone's film "W."
Perry can overcome this potential handicap by loudly and explicitly distancing himself from the White House's disgraced former occupant. Perry should remind voters of the aristo-socialist Bush's LBJ-like spendaholism and Carteresque regulatory overreach (e.g. Bush's repugnant 2007 ban on Thomas Edison's incandescent light bulb, effective 2012).
Perry should declare that his domestic agenda will not echo Bush's, much beyond tax relief and school choice. As the un-Obama and un-Bush, Perry soon could emerge as a seasoned, competent, growth-generating conservative. This should unite the Republican base, make tea partyers boil with glee, and magnetize independents and sensible Democrats.
If so, voters just might dispatch Barack Obama to design his presidential library.
Deroy Murdock is a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. E-mail him at deroy.Murdock@gmail.com.
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