Commentary Magazine


Does Experience Matter in Government? Perry Proves the Point.

In the past two and a half years, the American people have gotten yet another lesson in the perils of electing a president without executive experience. Barack Obama had no background in running anything, let alone a contraption as complicated as the federal government. His failures dealing with Congress as well as controlling the bureaucracy have been legion. Though Democrats thought a slim resume was only an issue with regards to the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, the president’s lack of familiarity with the business of managing a government has come back to haunt the nation.

The experience factor is one that obviously plays into the hands of the former governors who are seeking to replace Obama. Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty’s status as former governors ought to be a huge leg up for them, especially when compared to the record of Michele Bachmann, who has more legislative experience than Obama had but the same paucity of familiarity with the executive branch. However, the man who seems to be standing on the precipice of joining this trio as mainstream contenders for the GOP nomination has them all trumped.

Rick Perry has been governor of Texas since George W. Bush left that office in December 2000. In the past 11 years, he has not only amassed a vast wealth of governing experience, he has apparently become an expert in the business of dealing with a legislature and a state bureaucracy. While not everyone in the Lone Star State is in love with Perry, there seems to be a consensus he is not only a highly effective executive but one who has increased the power of an office that was once put down as among the least important governorships in the nation.

In today’s New York Times, Perry’s reign in Austin is given the once over and though the piece is not consistently flattering about the governor’s style, there’s no way to read it without being impressed by his skill. Perry has reversed the traditional balance of power ration between the state legislature and the governor’s office, getting his way far more often than not.

But, in the article, there is some confusion about Perry’s ideology. On the one hand, he is lambasted for his ruthless determination in pushing through business friendly measures that some blast as corporate welfare while at the same time he is denounced as the ultimate small government Tea Party activist. But no matter what label you slap on him, he is in position to claim credit for the economic boom that has made his state an outlier at a time when rising unemployment is the keystone of the economy during Barack Obama’s presidency.

We don’t know whether Rick Perry will decide to run for president. Nor do we know how he will fare on the campaign trail in states where governors in cowboy boots may not impress voters, especially only four years after the end of George W. Bush’s presidency.  Yet, as this Times’ article demonstrates, there’s no doubt Perry brings more to the table in terms of successful governing experience than anyone else seeking to challenge Obama.

Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share This

Share this post with your friends!