Newsweek Makes a Mess of Texas

The cover of Newsweek (4/26/10) proclaims: “Don’t Mess With Texas: What Governor Rick Perry’s Hard-Right Creed Tells Us About America.”

I can’t say I learned much about America, but I guess I learned something about Newsweek: They really like Rick Perry.

The story, by Evan Thomas and Arian Campo-Flores, beginswith the observation, “The myth of the once and future king is as old as Camelot, as ancient as the Bible.”Perry, it seems,is a living example of such a”redeemer”:

In Texas, his name is Rick Perry. Raised in a ranch house with no running water in the West Texas town of Paint Creek, yell leader at Texas A&M, Air Force pilot, longest serving governor in Texas history. Ruggedly handsome in a Marlboro Man sort of way, with a rich mane of brown hair, slightly tinged with silver gray. Perry, 60, stands for less government and more growth, for freedom and against bureaucracy, for Texas and against Washington. It’s a message that has made him a very popular politician in Texas, particularly among conservative white males. As the Tea Party movement gains momentum, as more Americans are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore, Perry is their kind of hero.

Newsweek goes on to wonder if Perry might really be “the second coming of Ronald Reagan, the plain-spoken man from the West who presided over a new ‘Morning in America’ by cutting taxes, reducing government (well, promising to) and standing tall against the nation’s enemies?”

Well, gee, maybe they should just skip the election? Would anyone be foolishenough to run against this handsome savior? Yes, it turns out–an uninspiring bald guy:

Perry’s Democratic opponent in November will be Bill White, the popular three-term mayor of Houston. White couldn’t be more different from Perry. He went to Harvard. He speaks fluent Spanish. He’s pasty white, with a bald pate and big ears. He talks in an even, slow monotone and refrains from gunslinging rhetoric. He’s kind of like President Obama without the good looks and charisma–a cerebral man who craves consensus and relishes tackling problems by gathering a roomful of smart people with diverse views to hash things out.

What a bore.

After the story’s fourth paragraph tells us that under Perry, “Texas somehow avoided the worst of the Great Recession,” the second-to-last sentence discloses that the Texas economic miracle might turn sourin a hurry: “Economic experts are predicting a shortfall of at least $15 billion in the coming year.” This after the state got $16 billion in stimulus money from the federal government last year. (Perry, you see, thinks Obama “is hellbent on taking America towards a socialist country.”)

And you wouldn’t know this from reading Newsweek‘s puff piece, but Perry and his pasty, uncharismatic Democratic challenger are in a pretty tight race, with Perry holding a four-point lead. Newsweek doesn’t have time to mess with such nuance.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.