Rick Perry passes a milestone

On December 18, Rick Perry became Texas’ longest serving governor. The Dallas Morning News noted the milestone with a story pointing out the degree to which all those years in office allow a governor a chance to control the Texas bureaucracy.  While the Texas governorship was created as a very weak office the gradual expansion of appointive powers has allowed a long-serving governor the chance to gain considerable control over many executive agencies. Combining that with the governor’s power to make temporary appointments to the Railroad Commission and the courts and you can see that Perry has been able to shape Texas government. However, it seems to me that Perry’s success can be seen more in personal politics than broad policy control. He’s stayed in power longer than other governors. Has he accomplished more? That seems to be an open question.

The same day Perry used a press conference to announce his support for “Choose Life” plates. It seemed ironic to me that Perry’s passage into the record book would be accompanied by such a minor initiative. License plate designs probably are not the best way to build a legacy and the case reminds me of Perry’s odd leadership style. At times Perry seems to be everywhere and nowhere (both in terms of geography and issues). He often pops up after the Legislature has adjourned and vetoes a bill that observers assumed he supported. Major initiatives like the Trans Texas Corridor seem to be developed with little consultation with legislators and follow-through suffers.

The design for Texas Alliance for Life's proposed "Choose Life" license plates

The design for Texas Alliance for Life's proposed "Choose Life" license plates

It was (somewhat) interesting to look at the “comments” section of the Dallas Morning News story. Many of Perry’s fans greeted the story of the “life” plates by attacking Kay Bailey Hutchison. It’s been clear for some time that the blogs have become a battleground for surrogates and it’s likely that the Perry and KBH camps routinely patrol the newspaper sites. Also, these comments often track with what I hear coming out of Perry’s office. It’s telling that the response from Perry’s camp is to always attack Hutchison rather than touting Perry.

Among of the criticisms of the “Choose Life” plates were  arguments these plates would politicize license plates in a way they had not been before. If abortion is a legitimate issue for our license plates then maybe other issues are fair game. If the Legislature takes up the “life” plates I wonder if they will consider other issues like term limits.

I oppose term limits. However, I felt obligated to offer a possible design for a new "Term Limits" license plate.

I oppose term limits. However, I felt obligated to offer a possible design for a new "Term Limits" license plate.

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One Response

  1. Update: It looks like Perry is on his way to winning passage of the bill authorizing these plates. SB 1098 passed the Senate by a 22-9 vote. This may be Perry’s biggest legislative accomplishment during the session.
    I’m look forward seeing what other political messages the government will authorize. In Perry’s continuing effort at education (or re-education), I expect the following messages to be approved: “War is Peace,” “Freedom is Slavery,” and “Ignorance is Strength.”

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