Good morning Austin:
On December 21, 2000, Rick Perry was sworn in as the 47th governor of Texas, succeeding Gov. George W. Bush who had been elected president of the United States, though it took a while to sort out if, in fact, that is what had happened. Perry concluded his speech that day to a joint session of the Texas Legislature on a lyrical note:
The promise of tomorrow begins today. May it be a song written in the hearts and minds of every citizen, every public servant. And may we all, each and every one of us, pledge to make the most of this tremendous opportunity para avanzar en nuestro progresso…advance on our progress, and build a better Texas.
Next week, Greg Abbott will be inaugurated as the 48th governor of Texas. This afternoon, at 2:30, Perry will give a farewell address to a joint session of the Legislature gathered in the House chamber, a custom sometimes observed and sometimes not, but requested by the longest-serving governor in the state’s history.
It should be a good speech. A valedictory, but also an inauguration of sorts. Come next Tuesday, Rick Perry will go from a guy who is mostly running for president to go who is, for all practical purposes, solely running for president. The good news here is that, come what may, Rick Perry won’t find himself with a gaping hole in his life, and he won’t entirely disappear from our lives.
On this occasion, I thought it appropriate to recall some compelling images from Perry’s tenure.
The first photo, above, is of Perry wearing my glasses at the holiday coffee for reporters in the Governor’s Reception Room in December. The reason he is wearing my glasses is because I had told him that his much-remarked-upon choice of eye-wear had given me the courage to switch to bolder frames after decades of wearing rimless or very thin-rimmed glasses. That was true and, Rick Perry being Rick Perry, he asked to see my glasses and tried them on. I think they look quite good on him – obviously way better than they look on me – though I think the frames he chose are even better for him. He also remarked, looking through my lenses, that I must be blind.
Our next selection is the “Marlboro Man” ad that helped Perry, who had switched from being a Democrat to a Republican, launch his statewide career in the 1990 race in which he defeated incumbent Democrat Jim Hightower for agriculture commissioner. The ad was made by David Weeks, who has done Perry’s ads throughout his career. It’s a classic.
As careful students of Perry’s career may recall, he was indicted last summer, a legal matter that may yet complicate his path to the White House. But, working with what was placed before him, Perry delivered one of the best mug shots of all time. Here is what Sabo, the conservative street artist, a Texas native now living in Los Angeles, who made his name with the Tatted Ted Cruz and Abortion Barbie posters, did with the mug.
Here also is SABO’s take on what got Perry in this legal fix.
One last bit of SABO. Here is his superhero take on Perry, Abbott and SABO’s original Texas muse, Ted Cruz.
There was, of course, the governor’s “Adios Mofo” moment, here in both its short and more contextual versions:
Adios Mofo also became the title of a book on Perry by James Moore and Jason Stanford, subtitled: Why Rick Perry Will Make America Miss George W. Bush.
I asked Stanford yesterday if he had parting words for his subject. His response:
Texas will probably never again have a governor who shoots a coyote while jogging with a laser-sighted Ruger. Inevitably, other handguns will come into fashion. I could never top “Adios, Mofo,” and saying “Vaya con huevos” would be more appropriate for his predecessor, so instead I’ll just wish him luck in his future endeavors. Also with those two felony counts for abuse of office. Good luck with that too.
In much the same vein, comes a critical account of Perry’s tenure from Progress Texas, with its take-off of Austin director Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, which may be the ultimate film document of growing up in Perry’s Texas. Twelve-years in the making, Boyhood began shooting in 2002, a year into Perry’s reign, and was released last year. It just won Golden Globe awards for best film drama, best director and best supporting actress for Patricia Arquette.
As Ed Espinoza, director of Progress Texas, put it:
Rick Perry’s last day as Governor of Texas is upon us. Made over 14 years with a rotating cast of cronies, Rick Perry’s sweeping drama of governorship is full of mistakes, missteps, and malfeasance. Too many to count.
A Progress Texas slideshow guides you through what they view as the myriad disasters of the Perry years.
The governor had revealed the fact that he is a card-carrying union member, seemingly out of the blue, in an appearance last week with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s legislative policy orientation.
Gardner Selby at PolitiFact Texas asked the governor’s office about.
To our inquiry, gubernatorial spokesman Felix Browne pointed out by email the Dallas Morning News described Perry’s membership in a Feb. 22, 2010, news story. That story said: “The governor became a member of the Screen Actors Guild after he appeared in the Tommy Lee Jones movie Man of the House. In the movie, he played the governor of Texas.” The day after Perry mentioned the membership, Breitbart.com, the conservative news site, quoted a former Perry aide, Kris Heckmann, saying Perry continued to pay his union dues after the making of the 2005 movie.
At our request, Browne provided a photo of Perry’s membership card for the SAG-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which we edited for this photo solely to remove his membership number.
Perry said he’s a member of the AFL-CIO.
Since 2006, Perry has been a member of the Screen Actors Guild, which is part of the AFL-CIO. We rate his claim True.
Here is the governor’s IMDB page.
We weren’t there, but video posted by the San Antonio Express-News shows Perry — who’s set to address lawmakers one last time today — telling Peggy Fikac of the newspaper and Mike Ward of the Houston Chronicle that on his watch, Texas had reduced “our nitrogen oxide levels by 63.5 percent.”
“Say 63 percent,” Perry then said, “that way, we won’t get PolitiFacted.” Then he laughed. Off camera, Ward can he heard saying: “Not gonna miss that, are you?” See for yourself at about the 25:50 mark of the video with this story.
And, if you have not already seen it, here is a link to Gov. Perry’s excellent exit interview with the Statesman’s Ken Herman.