That Perry sure acts like a leader, says … the Washington Post?

posted at 12:45 pm on September 7, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Rick Perry’s decision to head back to Texas to deal with wildfires across his state may have annoyed the organizers of a conference in South Carolina, but it left an impression with some media outlets.  As Jim Geraghty notes, the Washington Post isn’t too likely to give Perry many friendly headlines, but the Texas governor has to like this one — “Rick Perry’s response to Texas wildfires offers glimpse of leadership“:

With wildfires raging across his state, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) assumed a familiar role this week: crisis commander in chief.

His abrupt decision this week to cut short his presidential campaign schedule in South Carolina to oversee his state’s response to the fires offers a glimpse of a central aspect of his leadership style — and a look at what kind of president he would be.

Since Perry took office in 2001, four hurricanes have made direct landfall in Texas. Another, Rita, came by way of Louisiana and caused more than $11 billion in damage. And then there was Katrina, which plowed into New Orleans in August 2005 and pushed hundreds of thousands of evacuees into the arms of Texas.

So what kind of president would Perry make, as demonstrated by his crisis-management experience?

There is perhaps no greater illustration of Perry’s leadership in crisis than his oversight of Texas’s response to Katrina. He took pains to declare the state open to those who would need shelter from the storm, and he toured the Astrodome in Houston to check in with displaced families. And long before the storm struck, cities and counties and state emergency officials had begun preparing to receive evacuees from the Gulf Coast. In the end, the state took in hundreds of thousands of evacuees, found permanent housing for thousands of them, helped with job placement and enrolled children in schools. …

“One of his secrets is he picks really good people and lets them do their job,” said Robert A. Eckels, a Houston lawyer and former county judge who used to lead the county’s emergency response and helped coordinate the sheltering of 250,000 Katrina evacuees from neighboring Louisiana. “People look to the leadership style of a president. He’s going to set the tone and bring in good people and expect them to do their jobs well, and when they don’t, someone else will fill the hole. That’s the kind of leadership style we’ve seen in Texas and you’d see in America under Rick Perry.”

The Post also includes grumbling from Perry’s critics that he’s more interested in photo ops than actual leadership, although one can chalk that up to sour grapes, considering that the source is Perry’s defeated 2010 opponent Bill White. The Post’s Amy Gardner delivers a line after the jump that’s destined to become a Perry campaign ad:

One thing is certain: Perry has more experience leading a state in crisis than any other contender for the Republican presidential nomination.

It’s going to be tough to top that in tonight’s presidential debate from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, but Perry’s opponents will have to give it a try.  As I write in my column for The Week today, all Perry has to do is look presidential and not scary, which should be relatively easy to do in his first outing.  The moderators will try to trip him up, so Perry had better prepare for it:

The debate moderators will undoubtedly test the new candidate on some hot-button issues — especially evolution. Other candidates have already endured such questions in every debate thus far. Perry’s response to this question and other are-you-spooky queries should be blunt and direct. No one will be voting for president in this disastrous business climate based on the candidates’ views on evolution, Perry should remind viewers, and ask why the moderators aren’t focusing on jobs and the economy instead.

For Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann, the path forward is trickier.  If Mitt comes out in full attack mode, it will provide a jarring contrast with his carefully-cultivated image of unflappable, presidential leadership.  He can certainly draw contrasts between his extensive private-sector experience and Perry’s lifelong tenure in the public sector, but attacking too much will make it look as though Perry’s sudden ascent has Romney rattled.  Besides, Romney isn’t very good at attacking, as we have seen in the 2008 race, and on many issues Romney is even more vulnerable than Perry, such as government mandates.

Bachmann has nothing to lose by going on the attack, but there are still potential dangers for her:

Of the top-ranked candidates in the polls, Bachmann seemingly has the least to lose in going on the offensive. She attacked Pawlenty repeatedly on the campaign trail, and did so again in the Ames, Iowa, debate — sometimes stretching the truth to the breaking point, especially when Bachmann claimed that Pawlenty “imposed” cap-and-trade in Minnesota (the state has no such law, and Pawlenty eventually opposed a proposal to pass one) and said that he’d governed the state like Barack Obama. Bachmann did well enough at the Ames straw poll to drive Pawlenty out of the race, but she lost about 20 percent of the supporters she brought to the pay-to-vote straw poll, barely finishing ahead of Ron Paul. Within days, Bachmann started losing ground to Perry in Iowa and nationally.

Bachmann can score points on Perry for the arguable instances of crony capitalism on his record. However, she can’t go overboard again like she did in Ames with Pawlenty. Perry has already proven her wrong about his track record with Texas budgets in the past week, and if she gets it wrong again, Perry will have a big opening to question Bachmann’s grasp of facts and issues, a theme that has already arisen in this campaign. Still, with her numbers sinking across the board and her campaign leadership in crisis, Bachmann doesn’t have much to lose, and has to stop the decline back into second-tier status.

All Perry needs to do is keep from damaging himself and give voters a good first impression.  If he does that, then it will be a two-man race to the finish.

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“Sudden and relentless reform” That’s what this country needs. Everything that Obama has done needs to be undone. Everything.

Do any of the candidates that will be debating tonight have the honor, the courage, and the love of America to actually do it?

BetseyRoss on September 7, 2011 at 4:54 PM

The principles he lays out in his book are solid coservative, Federalist, Constitutional principles. There’s nothing “loony tunes” about any of them.

-Aslan’s Girl

Aslans Girl on September 7, 2011 at 4:55 PM

My 4:55pm was in response to:

KBird on September 7, 2011 at 12:59 PM

Aslans Girl on September 7, 2011 at 4:56 PM

Here’s another angle as well.

Texas wildfires: Is Rick Perry being hypocritical asking for federal aid?

Excerpt:

This week, the administration gave seven local disaster declarations to specific Texas counties, but Perry criticized the federal government for not making bulldozers at Fort Hood available to firefighters in nearby Gastrop County. This after the Republican-led Texas Legislature cut volunteer fire department “assistance grants” for equipment like bulldozers by 75 percent this summer to help balance the state budget. In Texas, volunteer firefighters do 80 percent of the wildland firefighting.

Perry’s jibes at the federal government not only raise ideological questions but also could risk casting him as a churlish leader, some say.

“In this context, where he’s just done himself proud by leaving the campaign behind and returning to the state, to then pivot and turn to kind of a partisan attack, I don’t think serves his interests very well,” says Bruce Buchanan, a political scientist at the University of Texas in Austin. “This is where you look for a politician who might be president to begin to take it to the next level a little bit.”

sheryl on September 7, 2011 at 5:00 PM

rockmom on September 7, 2011 at 1:06 PM

I still can’t believe that the Republicans let Politico/NBC in on this. It’s self-sabotage. As much as I want to see Perry tonight to see how he handles his first debate, part of me wants to tune it out. There won’t be anything enjoyable watching all of our candidates get smeared as insane asylum escapees. If religion becomes a theme tonight, NBC will paint them all that way because all our candidates are people of faith (well except for Huntsman who comes off as having nothing worthy in his head). Ugh.

-Aslan’s Girl

Aslans Girl on September 7, 2011 at 5:05 PM

Perhaps the governor of Texas can ask the US Forest Service why they have ground a fleet of aerial tankers that would be useful in fighting these wild fires.

Skandia Recluse on September 7, 2011 at 5:09 PM

In this context, where he’s just done himself proud by leaving the campaign behind and returning to the state, to then pivot and turn to kind of a partisan attack, I don’t think serves his interests very well,” says Bruce Buchanan, a political scientist at the University of Texas in Austin. “This is where you look for a politician who might be president to begin to take it to the next level a little bit.”

sheryl on September 7, 2011 at 5:00 PM

I believe it isn’t in Perry to take it to the next level. He’s too much a campaigner, an ideologue.

Perry is petty.

sheryl on September 7, 2011 at 5:13 PM

Sheryl, your pro-Romney/anti-Perry campaign is gaining about as much traction as a ten speed in the Rockies.

carbon_footprint on September 7, 2011 at 5:23 PM

Bachmann just needs to avoid being photographed eating anything resembling a hot dog, and she’ll be fine.

fossten on September 7, 2011 at 5:28 PM

He’s too much a campaigner, an ideologue.

sheryl on September 7, 2011 at 5:13 PM

campaigner =/= ideologue. He either cares most about his electoral prospects or he cares most about ideology. Can’t do both.

alwaysfiredup on September 7, 2011 at 5:28 PM

Do you mind throwing in the fact that you are currently a Mitt supporter in your disclaimer? Us Palin cultists have enough heat to deal with right now, and you’re bound to be labeled one of us with your comment.

Kataklysmic on September 7, 2011 at 4:48 PM

Well, I would be glad to except at present I am a staunch, dyed-in-the-wool A.B.O. Whoever wins the nomination will get my undying support (probably even Huntsman and RuPaul and the three-day-old ham sandwich.)

cf. “..ahhhh, the burning smell on another internecine battle over here on HA.”

To be honest, there’s a lot to like between Perry, Romney, Bachmann, Cain, and — when/if she gets in — Palin.

It is not that I am a weasel, it’s that I absolutely, positively, decidedly despise the incompetent bastard and his administration cronies.

The War Planner on September 7, 2011 at 5:32 PM

“..the incompetent bastard and his administration cronies” of course means Obama.

The War Planner on September 7, 2011 at 5:36 PM

Perry is petty.

sheryl on September 7, 2011 at 5:13 PM

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Knucklehead on September 7, 2011 at 5:44 PM

Read it and weep: Rick Perry & the Largest Tax Hike in TX
Jenfidel on September 7, 2011 at 2:01 PM

Read it. No weeping necessary.

rukiddingme on September 7, 2011 at 5:45 PM

Perry is petty.

sheryl on September 7, 2011 at 5:13 PM

Don’t let the Perrykrishnas bother you Sheryl.

darwin on September 7, 2011 at 5:51 PM

I, too, will vote for whoever gets the nomination, but as of right now Perry is top on my list. Grab the popcorn, folks, this debate is going to be interesting!

scalleywag on September 7, 2011 at 5:52 PM

Ahh the usual suspects.

Sarc

Nistas don’t get your knickers in a bunch.

CW on September 7, 2011 at 6:20 PM

sheryl on September 7, 2011 at 5:00 PM

First, as always, I need to point out that your sole problem with Perry is his religion and your intolerance of Evangelical Christians in positions of power.

Now lets move on to your politicization of the wildfires in Texas:

Article I, Section 8: “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States”.

Article IV, Section 2: “The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.”

It is required under the Constitution of the United States that all states be treated equally under Federal Law and this would include the Federal Disaster Relief Program established in 1950. Texans pays more than their fair share in taxes to the Federal government and they are constitutionally protected to get that money back like any other state when needed, especially in the form of Disaster Relief.

The article you link to calls this the “unilateral disarmament argument” yet it is not a political argument at all, it is the law of the land backed up directly by the Constitution.

As for attacking Perry for asking to use Bulldozers from Fort Hood – you go ahead and knock yourself out criticizing him for wanting to put idle bulldozers to use instead of repeating a Katrina where idle buses sat in a parking lot.

Daemonocracy on September 7, 2011 at 6:21 PM

Perry supports Ohio abortion bill. God bless him and God bless Ohio!

-Aslan’s Girl

Aslans Girl on September 7, 2011 at 6:39 PM

Gov. Rick Perry was a Democrat until the late 1980s, but he voted for Ronald Reagan in the 1980 and 1984 presidential elections, a top aide said today.

Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd that Perry voted for Reagan in each of those elections, even when Perry himself was on the ballot as a Democratic candidate for state representative in 1984.

windansea on September 7, 2011 at 6:57 PM

Perry is petty.

sheryl on September 7, 2011 at 5:13 PM

Romney is pedantic.

Schadenfreude on September 7, 2011 at 7:01 PM

windansea on September 7, 2011 at 6:57 PM

Well, none of that can be proven but that whole issue is immaterial considering Reagan himself was not only once a pro-choice Democrat but an admirer of FDR his entire life.

Daemonocracy on September 7, 2011 at 7:02 PM

windansea on September 7, 2011 at 6:57 PM

Cool. He was a Reagan Dem and then switched to Republican. Reagan probably made a lot of Dems realize they were really Republican.

-Aslan’s Girl

Aslans Girl on September 7, 2011 at 7:04 PM

I’m a cultist, who, according to alt, along with the rest of my cultist buddies, has an IQ less than that of a Pet Rock.

steebo77 on September 7, 2011 at 1:30 PM

Hey there buddy…

Is that what those nasty people really mean when they say I’m “dumber than dirt” for liking Sarah?

Yippee! Pet Rocks are kewl… they’re tough, and cute, and strong, and stuff…
/

OnlyOrange on September 7, 2011 at 7:35 PM

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