America: President Perry?

Texas Governor Rick Perry has entered the race and is now touted at Republican Frontrunner. Obama may have a fight on his hands.

Rick Perry, a cowboy from Texas who has never lost an election, has entered the fray with gusto. The 61-year old is a good-looking ultra-conservative who appeals across the right of the Republican spectrum - from evangelicals to tea-partyists. Michele Bachmann, Minnesota Congresswoman and Iowa straw-poll winner, might not now get a look-in. Nor previously feted Mormon ex-Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney.   

At the first Republican Presidential Debate on September 7, there was reported sparring between Romney and Perry to the exclusion of the six other contenders.  Perry was a late entrant, announcing his attention to run for the presidency only in mid August. However, already he is supported by 27% of self-identified Republicans while 22% back Romney in a Washington Post/ABC News poll taken between August 29 and September 1. 

Perry proposes spending cuts, supports states' rights, denies climate change, agrees with the death penalty, likes immigration when it fills gaps in the employment market and, like a true blue American would, fights for gun rights.  

He opposes enhanced federal powers, vehemently balks at Obama healthcare, is against gay marriage, and only in exceptional circumstances would allow abortion.

According to Sebastian Doggart's blog in The Telegraph, Perry believes that "“the United States of America is really the best hope of mankind.”  Is it?  

Americans are loathe to take holidays and are awarded by employers some of the least amount of vacation time in the world.  Has the US benefitted from this lack of free personal time? As Doggart notes "in global competitiveness, America is no longer the world-leader. In terms of productivity, which is calculated by how much a worker produces in an hour, the US came in fourth on the World Economic Forum’s 2010-2011 rankings." 

And US living standards are quite low these days compared to others, ranked as it is at 20th in the world in terms of average income, according to the World Economic Forum. Doggart writes "the US GDP per capita is only $46,000, lagging behind not just those supreme holidaphiles, Norway ($95,000) and Sweden ($52,000), but also the notoriously work-averse Australia ($37,000)."

Robert Jensen writing for Al Jazeera believes "The destructive capacity of the US military meant quick "victories" that just as quickly proved illusory. As the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq dragged on, it became clearer that the position staked out by early opponents was correct - the wars not only were illegal (conforming to neither international nor constitutional law) and immoral (fought in ways that guaranteed large-scale civilian casualties and displacement), but a failure on any pragmatic criteria. The US military has killed some of the people who were targeting the United States and destroyed some of their infrastructure and organisation, but a decade later we are weaker and our sense of safety is more fragile. The ability to dominate militarily proved to be both inadequate and transitory, as predicted."

According to Bloomberg when reporting on the Debate, "Perry reiterating his skepticism that humans have contributed to climate change, said that “the science is not settled on this". But another candidate, Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr., rebuked Perry by stating "we can’t run from science ... By making comments that basically don’t reflect the reality of the situation, we turn people off."

Huntsman's sentiments were echoed by Britain's Prince Charles. The Telegraph reported, "Mankind faces extinction, the Prince of Wales has warned, unless humans transform our lifestyles to stop mass consumption, run away climate change and destruction of wildlife."

How Rick Perry can actually think the US is the "best hope of mankind" when and if he's calling the shots from the Oval Office beggars belief. Perry is George W. Bush "on steroids" satirist Jon Stewart is reported by Business Insider to have remarked.

We've experienced so many dire, interventionist, chauvenistic and narrow-minded American politicians in positions of extreme power, do we really need yet another? The Republican slate was, until Perry's decision to run, the poorest quality for decades, pundits lamented. Perry might be a formidable opponent but is he really what the US needs right now? He's campaigning on his record as Texas governor, a State he once maintained should secede from the Union, notes Al Jazeera. How he squares that assertion with running for the presidency of all the states, who knows?

But as Barack Obama's ratings show, a tough opponent will make re-election difficult. A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll recorded that "a career-low 43 percent of voters said they approve of the overall job Obama is doing while 53 percent said they disapprove, a new high" noted iStockAnalyst. 

Perry may be on his way from Austin to Washington DC come 2012. What a prospect!

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