Disasters: Gov. Rick Perry does a Texas two-step
What do you do when your state is burning?
Texas' Republican Gov. Rick Perry, wanting to avoid any comparisons to Nero, took decisive action: He declared a three-day period, from Friday to Sunday, as Days of Prayer for Rain.
And they call Jerry Brown Gov. Moonbeam?
To be fair, this isn't all Perry has done. With wildfires scorching more than 1.4 million acres of the state, claiming at least two lives and destroying homes and livestock, Perry has asked for federal disaster aid.
Which is standard operating procedure for most governors. But it's a bit awkward for Perry.
You'll recall that Texas' governor has, on more than one occasion in recent years, flirted with the notion that the state should secede from the Union.
Speaking to a Texas "tea party" rally in 2009, for example, Perry said:
"We've got a great Union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we're pretty independent to boot."
Perry has also raised the idea of letting states opt out of Social Security. And, of course, he hates the new healthcare reform law.
I'm also pretty sure he's not a big climate-change guy, despite the drought ravaging the state.
A lot of it is in his book, "Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America From Washington." I'd say the title neatly sums up Perry's thoughts on the federal government.
Turns out, though, that Perry is -– as they say in Texas -– all hat and no cattle.
In 2009, shortly after his tea party talk about secession, Perry sought help from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in dealing with a swine flu outbreak in Texas.
And last July, when flooding hit 21 counties in the wake of Hurricane Alex, Perry also sought federal disaster aid.
Now, with fires raging, he has sought federal disaster aid and federal assistance in fighting the fires. One result? As The Times reported this week: "Every heavy air tanker in the country is being deployed, ... as are four C-130s and the California-based DC-10 fire tanker."
That's a DC-10 from California. You know, the state Texans hate. The one they're taking jobs from.
I'll give this to Perry, though. Maybe he has friends in high places -- because it's started to rain in Texas.
-- Paul Whitefield
Photo: Texas Gov. Rick Perry makes remarks before the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington on Feb.11. Credit: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters