After two debates with Governor Perry, I’m stumped. Truly and honestly stumped. The conventional wisdom says that Perry is the conservative hope while Mitt is the “establishment” hope. But is that right?
There’s no doubt that they have different positions on specific issues. While Perry seems more conservative (though I think less prudent) on social security, Mitt is more conservative on immigration. Regarding health care, their Obamacare position is virtually identical, and they both advanced state-level programs that are problematic to many conservatives. At least Mitt’s health care plan passed with bipartisan support after extensive consultations with leading conservative think tanks. Perry’s HPV mandate was an exercise of pure executive power, then he went on to demonize his opponents when they reacted against a decision that was, frankly, authoritarian.
Even their pasts are similar. Yes, Mitt has the YouTubes from his debates with Ted Kennedy, but Perry campaigned for Al Gore. Mitt is a pro-life convert, but Perry endorsed a pro-choice candidate for president in 2008.
On foreign policy, I’m having trouble determining where Perry stands. His answer on Afghanistan was incoherent (how do you pull out and maintain a presence at the same time?), but I’m not sure that there’s a huge difference between the governors. It’s hard to imagine either of them doing what Obama is doing now in Iraq and Afghanistan — defying the generals to rush a drawdown in time for 2012.
Or is it style over substance? Texans just seem more conservative, don’t they? But y’all, an accent doesn’t make you conservative.
Mitt Romney and Rick Perry are both conservative, both would give Barack Obama the run of his life, and both are capable of pulling America back from the brink. But it’s simply not the case that conservatives are compromising if they choose the former governor of Massachusetts over the current governor of Texas.