I haven’t made up my mind about Rick Perry. The Daily Plunge has written a lot about the Texas governor over the past six weeks, but that’s because he’s the most compelling political development in the GOP race at the moment. Also, there’s a very good chance that he could become the next president. Another interesting thing about Perry is that Team Bush is firmly opposed to his nomination. Since Reagan left office no other family has dominated a political party like the Bush family. The Bush family has had a stranglehold on the GOP establishment.
In 1980, it was George H. W. Bush who coined the term “voodoo economics.” When Reagan picked Bush as his VP it was like picking the ultimate company man. Bush had been the head of the CIA and the head of the GOP. Every GOP nominee for president since 1980 has had a testy relationship with the Bush family. Bob Dole had a long history of disagreements with George H. W. Bush. John McCain’s problems with George W. Bush are well documented. Let’s not forget about Texan Ross Perot. Perot’s 1992 campaign was the greatest anti-Bush crusade ever, aside from MoveOn.org and the legions of leftists who lost their marbles during the W presidency.
How has the Bush family managed to get away with this for so long? I can’t say, but the rise of Perry could threaten the Bush “kinder gentler, compassionate conservative” garbage that conservatives have had to endure since 1988. George W. Bush escaped the wrath of conservatives because of his Texas accent and 9/11. The party rallied around the President after that terrible day and he piled on big government while conservatives turned a blind eye.
Matt Latimer has a great article in The Daily Beast about the rift between Team Bush and Team Perry. Team Bush is already well underway trying to derail the Perry campaign.
While in the White House, Bush 2 and his aides regularly scoffed at Perry for reasons that were never fully clear, making fun of his syntax and intellectual prowess without any sense of irony. In 2010 the Bush family, along with Rove and Karen Hughes, undertook an unprecedented effort to kick him out of the governor’s chair, handing a crowbar to Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, whom they judged more “electable.” Perry walloped her in the GOP primary, then went on to win a historic third term in the general election by a double-digit margin. So much for electability.
But Rove is nothing if not persistent. Now he and his operatives seem to have something close to a war room against Perry, scrutinizing his every statement in an attempt to cut his young candidacy short. After Rove called Perry “unpresidential,” former Bush press secretary Tony “Ralph Malph” Fratto joined in—calling Perry, you guessed it, “unpresidential.” This was followed in quick succession by similar sentiments from a former Rove aide, Pete “Potsie” Wehner. Meanwhile, two “unnamed” Bush aides (wonder who they could be?) issued the following warning to The New York Times: “If you’re really trying to be the nominee and want to go the distance, you just don’t want the former president of the United States and his people working against you.” (Then again, that’s what the Bushes told Kay Bailey Hutchison.)
Latimer gives Rove too much credit. This has been the Bush modus operandi for decades. Karl Rove is to George W. Bush as Lee Atwater was to George H. W. Bush. Atwater and Rove were both great political minds at the disposal of their boss. The story here is of Texas. Texas is a big state and I’m sure there are plenty of natives who remember the state before it became synonymous with Team Bush. John Connolly, John Nance Garner or Sam Houston anyone?
In hindsight, the problem with George W. Bush wasn’t that he was from Texas. The problem with Bush was that he was the son of the established Big Government GOP and Ivy League to boot. There’s no other family in America that represents the GOP aristocracy better than the Bush family. That doesn’t mean they’re evil, but controlling the GOP is not something that the family wants to give up. The next GOP president who isn’t named Bush will loosen their stranglehold on the party. If the next GOP president is from Texas they might lose their hold on the Lone Star state and Texans of all stripes will breathe a huge sigh of relief.