TX-Gov: Rick Perry's Joke About Recession Isn't Funny, No Matter the Context

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Can someone explain to me when it became funny to joke about job loss?

Can someone explain to me why the fact that over 62,000 Texans losing their jobs in August 2009 is worth a laugh over?

Can someone please, please tell me why all the coverage about Rick Perry's gaffe is focusing on the politics of everything, instead of the policies of all of this?

Key Point: If we didn't have two career politicians who cared only about themselves — Hutchison trying to run a Governor's race from Washington, and Rick Perry spending 100% of his time campaigning and 0% of his time governing, even when the Legislature is in session — then maybe we wouldn't be where we are today.

This is Adios MoFo all over again; only this time unemployed workers are the punchline.


Last week, Rick Perry made an off-hand joke about how Texas economy, saying:

As a matter of fact, just today, I think, Michael, you said someone had put a report out that the first state that’s coming out of the recession is going to be the State of Texas. I told him, I said, ‘We’re in one?’”

There was a kerfuffle within the “gosh, we're bored” political community around Austin about whether or not the video was taken out of context. Here's what's happened since then:

  • KHOU in Houston was the first to report that Hutchison's team actually put up the video — showing how incredibly stupid their campaign team really is.
  • Jason Embry had the full video up for context at his First Reading page this morning.
  • One of Rick Perry's prominent online supporters — the Rick vs. Kay blog — is laying down a thick, thick guilt trip to the press (and to me and Glazer) about the journalistic integrity of reporting on a snippet of a campaign story and not the full piece.
  • Paul Burka kind of blames both Hutchison and Perry on this one:

Perry made a mistake. Point to Team Hutchison. Team Hutchison cheated. Point taken away from Team Hutchison. I think that the memory of the joke will be longer lasting than the memory of the mendacious editing.

I think the memory of every reporter, blogger, and political insider in Austin, Texas needs to jerked back into a place where we remember that the Governor of Texas likes to crack jokes about the fact that people don't have jobs.

Here's the basic response you get from Rick Perry and his army of dittoheads (whom the press gives more than ample air time to):

“Oh, but it was out of context — you are taking what he said out of context! It's a dirty trick — they did it, not us! They're the bad ones. We're just out there telling jokes to the unemployment lines — we're the good guys!”

Give me a break.

Rick Perry's actions speak far louder and are far more meaningful than his words. Perry can try and claim credit for the ingenuity of the Texas worker, but who out there really thinks Perry has the intellect to do much more than scrub product into his hair each morning? The guy is a smug, manipulative, power-hungry MoFo who was rejected by 60% of the voters the last time he was on the ballot.

More to the point — he has a proven record of failure on Texas' economy. The enormous budget hole created by the Rick Perry tax plan in 2006 was filled this time around only by federal stimulus dollars — something the Austin American-Statesman editorial board loudly pronounced:

Federal funds help save the state's hide

During the session, the all-GOP legislative leadership team would grudgingly admit that if it weren't for the federal government's stimulus money, Texas budget cuts would have been wide and deep.

But that didn't keep the governor and others from criticizing Washington for its wasteful ways. At one point, Perry mentioned secession in stoking up an anti-tax crowd.

It was tough talk but as is usually the case in politics, the gap between rhetoric and reality was as wide as the gap between the state's income and demands for services. Without the federal assistance, Texas would be in a tough financial fix.

Rick Perry has failed on numerous economic opportunities, but he still travels the state taking credit for the efforts of Texas small business owners and workers.

So boo-hoo for Rick Perry being taken out of context? Only if you are cravenly selfish about politics. My sympathy is not with Governor Perry, or the shocking fact that someone posted accurate words of him speaking on a website for political gain. The entire Republican primary race has been a small-minded spitting match — this video is exactly in line with everything that's happened.

What we should be talking about is the state of our economy. We should talk about it in an honest way, that celebrates the innovation and determination of Texas business owners and workers, but that is rightfully critical of the disastrous direction Republicans have taken Texas over the past decade.

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About Author

Phillip Martin

Currently the Research and Policy Director for Progress Texas and the Texas Research Institute, Phillip Martin writes occasional long-form pieces for BOR that promote focused analysis and insight into Texas politics. Born and raised in Austin, Phillip started working in politics in 2003 and started writing on BOR in the summer of 2005. Phillip has worked for the Texas Democratic Trust, the Texas Legislative Study Group, and now the Progress Texas family. He is a lifelong Houston Astros fan, a loyal Longhorn, and loves swimming at Barton Springs Pool.

1 Comment

  1. I bet the Governor also thinks it is really funny
    that 1 in 3 adults in Harris County are uninsured.  

    With leadership like this, why not just declare Texas a GOP Banana Republic.  

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