Texas

Something about Rick Perry seems to inspire conversation that is awfully elemental. First, he was praying for rain. Then there were the Texas wildfires last month, and the question of whether or not they were related to the man-made climate change in which Perry does not believe. And now comes the rock. We'll leave it to others to litigate just exactly when a certain offensive word was visible on the boulder at the entrance to piece of land that Perry and his father starting leasing as a hunting ranch starting in the 1980s.

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After traveling to Texas and delving deep into Rick Perry’s history, TNR’s Alec MacGillis has written what we think is the definitive profile of the Texas governor. And tonight, you can hear him tell even more of the story.

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Earlier this week, I posed what I saw as a crucial question hanging over Rick Perry's prospects in the primary: whether Republican voters nationally would show more concern than Texas voters have about the pay for play, corporate-welfare aura that has enveloped Perry's tenure as govenror.

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In a Slate column on Tuesday, Jessica Grose asked the question of why the media covers Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann differently. According to Grose, the media treats Perry as dumb and Bachmann as crazy. As Grose says of the Texas governor, he “comfortably fits into the Republican archetype of the stupid male candidate.” The fact that he is from Texas and likes to play up his anti-intellectualism—both traits reminiscent of another former Lone Star state governor who was derided for being none-too-bright—only makes the picture easier to draw.

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The Permanent Candidate

What’s driving Rick Perry?

What’s driving Rick Perry?

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In my first cover story for the magazine, which went up on-line today and will hit newsstands next week, I tell the story of Rick Perry's remarkable rise, with a focus on the enterprise he's built around himself in Texas: a flow of money (campaign contributions coming in; contracts, appointments, and awards from his $800 million in economic development accounts going out) that is unprecedented in scale even in Texas, where the sky's the limit for political donations. Perry's primary rivals have already tried to give this enterprise a name -- the dread alliterative, crony capitalism.

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Sidelined

In the good old days, they were called “the cardinals,” because the chairmen of the appropriations committee were so powerful. An insular group, they met behind closed doors, and, without wasting their time with input from anyone, they decided how the government should spend precious tax dollars. The most legendary example of the appropriator’s might is Charlie Wilson, the Texas representative who launched a covert war against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s, simply through canny use of the power of the purse.  How times have changed.

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Georgia’s execution of Troy Davis last week was a poignant reminder of the continued presence of capital punishment in the United States. The Davis execution generated extraordinary interest because of troubling doubts about his guilt. Some observers have already speculated that the Davis case might serve as the spark that could reignite the movement to abolish the death penalty. But lost in some of the attention that the execution has generated is the death penalty’s unmistakable and precipitous decline over the past decade.

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Neither Rick Perry nor Mitt Romney should have been surprised by a single serious question during Thursday night’s clunker of a debate sponsored by Fox News and an obtrusive Google promoting word clouds and grainy average-citizen videos.

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To: Editor From: TN Re: Republican debate I've got a social engagement tonight and I know the copy desk doesn't like to work late. So here's my post-debate analysis. The debate will air on Fox News from 9 to 11 p.m., so please do not post before 11 p.m. Repeat: do not post before 11 p.m. We don't want to give readers the idea that the press knows what to say even before the candidates take the stage.

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