Politicians are by trade at least a little duplicitous. After all, the naked truth is often not very advantageous to someone who is trying to sell a group of people on an idea or ideology. Most of us I think expect a little white lie here or there, or more often than not a simple cherry-picking of the facts that best make their case for them. Outright hypocrisy though has become the norm, and even the most strident of ideologues are extremely capable of it.
Case in point: Governor Rick Perry (R-TX).
When President Obama reached into the Republican Playbook to draft the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare to most — he probably thought that would help him get cross-aisle support. After all, no more than fifteen years prior, it was conservatives like Bob Dole who were touting the effectiveness of an individual mandate. In fact, it was Obama’s eventual 2012 Republican foe Mitt Romney who paved the way for Obamacare with his health care bill that he signed into law as governor of Massachusetts. Romney was so proud of his Obamacare Version 1.0 that he had it painted into his official governor’s portrait.
But the reality has sunk in that to the Republicans Obamacare is evil because of the letters “O-B-A-M-A” attached to it. That’s the only reason I can come up with why they continually lie about the ACA. And as if their lies aren’t enough, now Rick Perry is showing just how much the right’s opposition is nothing but smoke, mirrors, and political rhetoric. Perry has been one of the loudest voices criticizing Obamacare, going so far as to join a host of Republican governors outright refusing to create their own insurance exchange or expand Medicaid under the ACA.
So why is Perry all of a sudden negotiating with the Obama White House for about $100 million in Obamacare funds? Because he’s a massive hypocrite, that’s why. Because when push comes to shove, the anti-populist positions that the Tea Party has foisted upon the Republican Party puts actual Republican politicians in a hell of a bind, that’s why. Because maybe Rick Perry understands deep down somewhere in his six-gun shootin’, no abortion after orgasms heart, that Obamacare does provide some truly life-changing opportunities for the poor and sick to get the health care they need, that’s why. Don’t get me wrong, the fact that he wants to get money from the Feds that could help get 12,000 more Texans health coverage is a good thing, it’s just that he could cover over a million more people if he stopped dragging his feet on the Medicaid expansion.
Regardless of the reasons for it, I’m glad that the White House is apparently taking the high road in negotiating with Texas for the funds. It shows that in the end, the well-being of the people of Texas is what’s most important, whether or not their governor feels that way. Perry’s already said he’s not going to seek another term as governor, so at least in that regard there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for progressives in the Lone Star State, but quitting politics altogether is what Rick Perry needs to do. Many though presume he’ll make one more attempt at the White House in 2016.
I’d strongly advise Perry to reconsider that. His campaign was one of the most embarrassing Republican campaigns of 2012, and when your company is Michele Bachmann, Donald Trump and Herman Cain, that’s saying something. There was the time he couldn’t remember the three Federal agencies he wanted to immolate. There was the WTF-tastically named ranch that his campaign didn’t even bother to come up with a decent explanation for. There was the weird slurred speech, the odd laughs and just the plain, dumb things that would come out of his mouth.
Perry should know by now that he only plays well to his hometown crowd. To anyone outside Texas, he’s George W. Bush without all the intelligence. He’s Dan Quayle without all the charm. Rick Perry is not a nationally-electable politician. This may not stop him from running again in 2016, but the facts are that his state in 2012 ranked 40th out of 50 states in terms of health care, according the United Health Foundation. What that tells me is that if ever there was a state that could benefit from the Federal governments telling them they can have virtually free money to expand their Medicaid availability, it’s Texas. If ever there was a state that needs the full impact of the Affordable Care Act, it’s Texas.
Perry’s stubborn insistence to ignore the scads of good that Obamacare could do for his state while secretly negotiating to get at least some funds should infuriate Texans, and I believe it will. It’s estimated that if Texas took the $100 billion in Obamcare funds that they’d get to expand Medicaid; 1.5 million more people could have gotten health coverage. That’s 1.5 million more people getting preventative care, 1.5 million more people getting flu shots. That is no small task in a state as big as Texas.
Perry’s political career is over after his current term is up. He may not know it yet, but the last three years have exposed to everyone outside and inside of Texas just how useless he is, standing only on his “principles” in public, and quietly doing the right thing behind closed doors. That kind of person is dead weight in American politics, and that’s why whether he likes it or not, Rick Perry is being put out to pasture.