But George Bush mitigated his chauvinistic verbal thrusts (“Bring ’em on!” to Bin Laden; and later, “Mission accomplished”) with folksy malapropagandistic pleas for comity (put “food on your family,” hug a “shut-in”!). Perry has yet to show a softer side. Liberal Perry-watchers cite his enthusiasm for cuts to education and healthcare as proof of his cold-heartedness. Thanks to Perry, some Texas school children must pay to ride a bus to class, and when challenged about his (proposed) budget cuts to Medicaid that would shock a state already ranked ninth in the union for the percentage of elderly living in poverty, Perry huffed that the idea that senior citizens faced being turned out on the street was nothing more than an urban legend: “I will suggest nobody disappeared.” But perhaps no fact about Perry’s tenure speaks as directly to breathtaking cruelty as his having presided over 230 executions – more than any other governor in American history.
Perry is George Bush without the charm. There is no compassion to his conservatism.
His lack of mercy could be the most salient characteristic of a Perry presidency. It almost explains why he wants to be elected to a job that he has such a low opinion of – in his book, Fed Up!, Perry argues repeatedly that many of the responsibilities currently held by the federal government (did you see what he did there, with the book title?) are misappropriated, even unconstitutional. Americans have often viewed their president as a steward of the country’s well-being; Perry sees it as a chance to lean back and let the states, and their residents, fend for themselves.