July 24, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Perry’s ‘Fed Up’ Takes on Liberal Governance

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Presidential hopeful and Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s new book reads like a conventional campaign tome, reviewer John Bicknell writes.

But mostly, he brings indignation. That is perhaps the central theme he has carried from the book to the campaign. When Perry said of tea partyers that “we’re not angry, we’re indignant,” he was trying to alter the perception of his base from the media-imagined rabble of peasants with pitchforks to something else: solid, middle-class people who are aghast at the Obama administration.

Perry is hardly less indignant when talking about Republican complicity in perpetuating Washington’s power grab. Borrowing William F. Buckley’s famous founding phrase for the conservative magazine National Review, Perry accuses many Republicans of “standing athwart history not doing a damned thing.”

Perry’s indictment: “While the modern Democrat is unabashedly committed to expanding the federal government ... the average Republican too often shows up to the fight seeking something ‘less bad.’”

Many of the book’s policy prescriptions don’t go far beyond what an average Republican, who might not be the same breed as the average Republican of a few years ago, would support today.

But even here Perry’s language separates him from what more establishment party figures generally espouse. In making the obligatory call for the repeal of the 2010 health care overhaul, Perry does not parrot the standard GOP talking point about replacing it with something else.

“Of course we should talk about the things we are for,” he writes. “But under no circumstances should Washington Republicans forsake the clarity of this single mission: to repeal and stop this misguided, un-American, and unconstitutional law from undermining our health care system.”

So, how does that coma patient fit into this health care debate? Depends on who “we” are. If “we” is the federal government, you might get one answer. If “we” is the state government, you might get another.

But “we” can also include the coma guy’s family, church, neighbors, co-workers or some combination of a host of other social institutions that, in Perry’s vision, could flourish if only they could get the federal government to stop thinking it has to do everything for everybody.

“I’ll work every day to make Washington, D.C., as inconsequential in your life as I can,” Perry said in his presidential announcement. Reading “Fed Up!” it’s easy to believe that he means it.

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