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Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Closing Argument for Rick Perry: An Open Letter to Ben Mandelbaum and Iowa Conservatives

Dear Ben,

We had a good conversation on the phone yesterday and I understand your lack of enthusiasm over the candidates. That being said, I still believe strongly that Governor Rick Perry offers the best combination of pluses and minuses of any of the candidates. Furthermore, once you've read what I have to say, I'm confident you'll understand why going to caucus Tuesday is worth a measly three hours of your life.

A couple notes before we start: While I'm primarily writing this for you, I'm also doing it as a blog post for other undecided Iowa conservatives. Thus, while this pitch is mostly tailored to you, I'm going to touch on a few things that might not be vote moving issues for you.

Also, this post by some Dallas based blogger I've never met was essential to my preparation of this letter. Many of his sentiments are similar to mine, but in case this post goes viral, the last thing I need is accusations of plagiarism when it's easier to share credit at the beginning.

So, why do I STILL support Governor Rick Perry for President?!?

As you know, Governor Perry has been my fantasy first choice for a 2012 nominee (with the possible exception of Dick Cheney) since I moved to Texas four years ago. Up to that point, I'd never been represented by an elected official who simply 'got it' on the level that Rick Perry does (and that includes Rudy Giuliani). Even after his unsteady opening months on the campaign trail, I still feel he offers the best mix of positives and negatives from a conservative perspective. As garnet92 says:
He's not perfect, but I think when his strengths and weaknesses are compared to his rivals, none has his combination of qualifications, experience, and record of success [Emphasis in Original]. I've done quite a lot of research on Governor Perry and I've found lots of good and some not-so-good, and the good outweighs the not so.

Now, obviously, for you Israel is the #1 issue. While this Republican field is a bit of an embarrassment of riches for friends of Israel, Perry has still DELIVERED MORE ACTION than the other candidates. In 2007, Governor Perry led a movement to get Texas State employee funds to divest from Iran. In 2009, Governor Perry won the defender of Jerusalem Award. It's also worth noting that Governor Perry and Pastor John Hagee are longstanding allies and that it's already given MSNBC conniption fits.

Moving on, your other major issue is spending and the national debt. On that score, Governor Perry has helped balance six budgets, three of which had spending reductions of some sort, and the most recent of which had a net spending cut across the entire Texas budget for the first time since WWII. Put simply, he's the only candidate in the race who has consistently delivered government that lives within it's means for over a decade. Obviously, Washington D.C. is a different ballgame from Austin (which is why I live in Austin), but if we're going to send someone to achieve the monumental task of balancing the Federal budget, it's better to send someone who has already balanced six state budgets, cut spending three times, and even in those budgets where spending grew had it sill grow far more slowly than other states.

Obviously, the real money is in entitlements, and there Governor Perry has a stronger position on entitlements than any candidate that doesn't have kooky foreign policy positions. Also, lest you forget, Governor Perry caught hell for his position on Social Security shortly after entering the campaign. That said, unlike a lot of other Republicans who have good entitlement positions on paper, Governor Perry displays a certain level of comfort discussing Social Security other candidates simply lack. Consider the following conversation with Jay Leno:


Put simply, I don't think any other candidates offers higher odds of actually DELIVERING Entitlement Reform and reversing this mountain of Red Ink than Governor Perry.

The discussion on spending and entitlements segues nicely into a discussion of Governor Perry's governing style. While Texas has a conservative population, a conservative Governor (obviously), and a super majority in the State House of Representatives this past session, the Texas Legislature is actually home to a stunning number of RINO's who will collaborate with Democrats to kill good legislation. Our legislative leaders Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus are the mothers of all RINO's. Making matters worse, the Texas Constitution actually gives the LG and Speaker far more legal power to craft legislation and the budget than the Governor has. In comparison, the Governor only has his veto and the bully pulpit.

This past session, Texas faced a MASSIVE deficit. Governor Perry indicated at the beginning of the session that he wanted the full 28 billion in spending cuts. That being said, $28 billion in spending cuts was NEVER going to happen in a Legislature controlled by David Dewhurst and Joe Straus. On the budget, Governor Perry set forth two inviolable principles: 1) DO NOT RAID THE RAINY DAY FUND TO PAY FOR ONGOING EXPENSES and 2)DO NOT RAISE TAXES. While Governor Perry had to compromise somewhat on the numbers, he stuck to his guns on the two big items, and he won. As a result, Texas should have a modest surplus for this biennium.

Looking deeper into Governor Perry's governing style, I think his biggest mistake as Governor actually reveals more about his style than many of his successes. In 2007, Perry issued an executive order mandating all 12 year old girls in the state receive an HPV vaccine. People were obviously outraged and opposed. What happened next, however, is quite instructive: PERRY BACKED DOWN!!! Contrast Perry's response to the public outrage and opposition to the HPV vaccine with Bush's reaction to TARP outrage and opposition or Obama's reaction to outrage and opposition over Health Care.

Given what you said on the phone, you're not crazy about how Governor Perry has emphasized the so-called 'Social' issues over the past month. I totally understand how you feel. One day, you'll understand how the so-called 'social' issues are actually the moral foundation on which representative democracy and free-market capitalism rest, but I doubt that day will come by Tuesday. Instead, consider EVERYTHING you've ever said about how evangelical Christians are better friends of Israel than most Jews. In the post so-called "Arab Spring" Middle East, America and Israel both need a U.S. President with a clear and unapologetic sense of right and wrong.

Sticking with the so-called 'social' issues, consider Governor Perry's approach and how it contrasts with the approach of many other Republicans. In case you forgot, Governor Perry's quite literally wrote the book on the Tenth Amendment. This is important because, by taking a lot of these issues out of Washington D.C. and returning them to the states, many of these issues (eg. Defending the Unborn and Marriage Redefinition) will simply disappear from National Politics.

In terms of reducing the power of Washington D.C., I think you DRAMATICALLY underestimate how revolutionary Uproot and Overhaul really is. Having spent just enough time in D.C. to see how it really works, I can assure you that you'll never meaningfully change things there until you fire a whole s**tload of congressional staffers and bureaucrats buried deep in Federal Departments. Rather than simply attacking symptoms, Uproot and Overhaul is the most specific proposal I've ever seen from any candidate to address the core pathologies in Washington D.C.

I could give a long, evidence-based, presentation of Governor Perry's positions on Economic Growth, Health Care, and Foreign Policy but most of those issues are covered elsewhere. Suffice to say, Governor Perry's views are well within the Conservative mainstream. What's different is that I think Governor Perry, for the reasons listed above, will actually DELIVER more as President than the other candidates.

Finally, I want to offer a contrast between Governor Perry and Rick Santorum. Right now, if you Looks at the Polls it appears Iowa is going to come down to Romney (barf), Paul (shudder), and either Perry or Santorum. While you might not be an Evangelical christian or particularly conservative socially, I strongly suggest that you will be far more comfortable with Governor Perry as the non-Romney, non-Paul candidate than you will be with Santorum. Consider the following aspects of Santorum's record:
-Santorum voted FOR No Child Left Behind

- Santorum voted FOR Medicare Part D

- Santorum didn't just vote FOR the Terri Schiavo intervention; HE CHEERLED FOR IT!!!

Furthermore, I guarantee you that, had he still been in Congress, Santorum would have voted for TARP. As The American Conservative noted earlier this week:
Today, Santorum remains the personification of Bush Republicanism. Heading into the 2012 campaign, the former senator sounds more like the ghost of Republicans past, invoking Bush’s name more often and favorably than any other candidate, while seeming to hope his beating of the culture and foreign war drums might drown out his big government record.

If, somehow, Rick Santorum, with all his big-government baggage, beats Governor Perry by some small vote total to become the non-Romney, non-Paul candidate, you won't be happy.

Isn't it worth a measly three hours of your life to do your part to help send someone who is Pro-Israel with a record, Has actually cut spending, backs down in the face of public opposition, takes a Tenth Amendment/Federalist approach to so-called "social" issues, advocates a DAMN NEAR REVOLUTIONARY plan (with specifics) to take power out of Washington D.C., and is well within the conservative mainstream on Economic Growth, Health Care, and Foreign Policy to Washington as the next President.

I know it would be for me.

That's my story and I'm sticking too it.

I hope this helps.

Sincerely,
Adam Cahn
Austin, TX
December 31, 2011