For its July edition, the magazine Texas Monthly did an interview with Texas governor Rick Perry.
It was, as the best interviews are, a rhetorical boxing match. Perry is a popular Republican governor of a growing red state with a robust economy. This makes him a comfortable man.
He was interviewed by Brian D. Sweany, who is the editor-in-chief of Texas Monthly, a nationally respected magazine that I like very much.
You can read the original interview here. Consider this an artistic interpretation of how that interview went:
BRIAN D. SWEANY: Governor Perry, you got this job through a slick backdoor cheat and don’t even deserve to have it. You’ll also notice that I have a middle initial in my byline, whereas your name only contains three syllables. Whaddya think about that?
RICK PERRY: Well, if you want to just ignore my entire political career, then yeah, I guess you’re right. But, look, I’ve been in this game since 1985, Ok? And I’ve done the hard jobs. I’ve done the hard jobs and I’ve done the dirty jobs, but I came out clean, didn’t I? Yes I did. The thing is, I’m a bit of an outsider. I’m always nosing around at the edges of politics, trying to figure out how it works. I guess I’m technically a politician, but I’m not very good at politics. I’m not a smart man, Brian, but I know how to turn every knob in this cockpit.
BDS: You pretended to be a liberal to get popular, and once you did you turned conservative to get the money. You’re a hypocrite and a phony.
RP: I was raised by hillbillies. I have the soul of a hillbilly. Liberal? Conservative? Like I said, I’m a bit of an outsider, poking around at the edges. I’m still trying to figure out what both of those terms mean.
BDS: What were your biggest screw-ups?
RP: You know, I wouldn’t say I’ve ever actually screwed up. What I would say is that there have been a couple times where people thought my reasoning didn’t make sense. By the way, I read a book, and I want to tell you about it. There’s this book about how you can become an expert on anything by doing it 10,000 times, and I would say that I’ve done politics way more than 10,000 times, wouldn’t you? But I guess if I had to name one thing, I’d say it was that thing with the HPV vaccines. I still think I did the right thing, but people did seem to think it was stupid, so I guess I’d go with that, if I had to name a slip-up.
BDS: Good boy. Now you’re gonna sit here and take it while I drill into you about this. To me? Looked pretty clear you were just tossing your buddy some business and you made it worse by being all obnoxious.
RP: I’m pretty sure I did the right thing, but because people couldn’t understand my reasoning I learned a new thing about politics. It was probably like my 12,000th politics thing or something like that. I’m a sensitive guy. I was just trying to help women.
BDS: All right, fine. Then what good stuff do you think you’ve done because I can’t think of anything.
RP: Well, I did pass that tort reform thing. That was huge.
BDS: From 2003? Dude, you were pandering!
RP: Look at my stats after that, though! We’ve got, like, tons more doctors now. There’s a doctor near almost everybody. People are haters, man. But even my haters know I’m right. They have to attack me for something. But you just look at my stats, look at my record after that, and tell me things aren’t better. Job got done, didn’t it?
BDS: I’ve got a couple bullets to fire at you. They’re not much, but they’re all I’ve got on this. Ready? Here goes. Bullet one: Like 13 or 14 years ago, you went against a couple of medical programs, even though you now say health care is numero uno. Bullet two: Texas has the fewest insured people of any state. Knock these down and we can move on to a real question.
RP: Having nearby doctors and having health insurance are not the same thing, bro. One is part of your environment, and one is a consumer decision made by you. Even your hero, Obama, says Medicaid is broke, so why would I put money into a broke thing?
BDS: Why do you seem to be the most hard-assed of the Republicans? I mean even Arkansas seems more chill than you. Arkansas.
RP: Yeah, but Arkansas isn’t all that Republican.
BDS: (Audible sigh). All I’m saying is, I want us to fit in with everybody else. I want Texas to be one of the popular kids that wears the latest fashions and listens to the coolest music, and you’re just making us like a bunch of jocks in dirty cowboy boots.
RP: Look, those other states? They’re fine, they’re good, they do a good job. But they’re dorks! They’re desperate dorks huddling around the pretty girl, sniffling and pushing their glasses back up their noses and spitting dork lines to the prom queen, which is Obama. And they’re doomed! They’re totally doomed to get their hearts broken. They’ve made it impossible for guys like me, because now the President won’t let us do anything.
BDS: But, dude, some of this stuff happened under Bush, so are you saying this is a problem of pencil pushing? Of clerical tedium? I sincerely hope that’s not what you’re saying, because that will have made this line of questioning a complete waste of time.
RP: Haha. That is what I’m saying.
BDS: Says here I have to ask you about Ronald Reagan. So: Ronald Reagan … GO!
RP: Like Reagan, I’m a big capitalism guy. And my state is makin’ it rain right now. I would say there’s a lot of Reagan in me, but I’d never go full Reagan.
BDS: We heard you got in a fight with Tom Craddick and David Dewhurst.
RP: Fight? With Craddy and Dewbaby? Nawl, those are my friends. Look, we’re smart guys and we’re passionate guys and we’re big strapping guys, and when you get smart, passionate, big strapping guys in a hot room, sometimes it gets a little raw and the bodies collide and I don’t think any of us need to be held accountable for what may or may not go on in there.
BDS: Remember when you vetoed all those bills in ’01? What was up with that?
RP: Well, I fought the speaker of the house. Laney. Laney and I fought.
BDS: Oh, bullshit.
RP: Here’s how I’d put it: We were all feeling each other out.
BDS: Let’s test your Texas history, shall we?
RP: Big fan of Sam Houston.
BDS: Yeah, he was good. He was pretty against Texas secession, which is funny, because you seem to like bringing up secession every now and then.
RP: Yeah. I really like him. I have a ring just like his, that’s how big of a Sam Houston fan I am. I also was studying up for this question on Wikipedia and I read about this guy named Dolph Briscoe, who was the governor of Texas. He built the roads from the farms to the towns and that was a pretty big deal. So I’d say I’m a big Dolph Briscoe fan too.
BDS: How come we’re still praising the jocks and cheerleaders all the time? I mean, still? In 2014? We give all our money to football coaches and practically no money to poets! That just doesn’t seem right, does it?
RP: You want me to hire some poets?
BDS: Not you, per se, but, I dunno, somebody. Doesn’t anybody have a love for poetry anymore in this state?
RP: I don’t follow. What would you want me to do about it?
BDS: I don’t know, I just get very emotional about poetry. Forget I brought it up.
RP: Aw, don’t go getting all … It’s Ok. I mean, things are getting better for nerds like you. You have to admit that. Our schools in Texas are pretty good, really, and the UT football team stinks. You have to feel good about that.
BDS: I do, thanks. With my next three questions, I’m going to try to get you to ramble about a given topic and see if you make a gaffe, OK? Topic one: tuition deregulation.
RP: I’d buff some stuff here, polish some stuff there.
BDS: Topic two: death penalty. And, you know, try to ramble a bit more.
RP: For it.
BDS: Topic three: seriously?
BDS: Insult Bush, man. Come on, just do it. You know you want to.
RP: I do, but I’m not going to. Look, George Bush and I are not the same guy and this is not the year 2000. He’s good at some stuff, bad at some stuff. I’m good at some stuff, bad at some stuff. I would just tell you to look at my advanced stats and not worry about comparisons. I’ve got a BPS+ of over .600.
RP: I don’t know.
BDS: So, how conservative are you, really? Are you, like, “I drove a Cadillac in the 80s” conservative or are you “confederate flag mud flaps” conservative? Are you a country boy with a shave or are you a city slicker in a hat?
RP: I mean, I don’t think we should impeach Obama, if that gives you some idea where I’m at. I think if we do that’ll just make people vote for Democrats. The other thing I wanted to say was, I don’t get why Hispanics aren’t Republicans. They should totally be Republicans right?
BDS: What are you gonna do after this?
RP: Probably hit up Whataburger.
BDS: I mean after your term as governor is over.
RP: I’ll be a little bit happy and a little bit sad. It would be kinda like when you taste something that’s sorta strong and then sort of … egh – you know what I’m trying to say? A taste that’s kinda icky?
BDS: You mean “bitter?”
RP: That’s it. It would be like if you had some of that, and then combined it with something sugary.
RP: Bittersweet, that’s exactly right.
BDS: How do you think you did, like, overall?
RP: Pretty good.
BDS: You wanna give me the scoop that you’re running for president?
BDS: Come on. I was nice, wasn’t I?
RP: (Blank smile).
BDS: You screwed it up pretty badly last time, you know. You’re not gonna do that again are ya?
RP: The last time, honestly, I just didn’t have time to be the governor and run for president. The sun got in my eyes, coach. I don’t have that problem anymore.