Rick Perry’s Shrewd Move

August 16th, 2011 at 4:00 pm | 32 Comments |

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Texas Governor Rick Perry may have just made a very shrewd move.  No, I’m not talking about declaring himself to be a candidate for president on the same day of the Iowa Straw Poll.  I’m talking about this:

John Sharp, the former Texas comptroller who was student body president at Texas A&M in the early 1970s, is in line to head the entire 11-university A&M System.  Sharp, 61, won approval Monday from the A&M Board of Regents as the sole finalist to become A&M System chancellor.  Under state law, the appointment becomes final in 21 days.

As the article mentions, John Sharp is the former State Comptroller of Texas.  He is one of the last Democrats to hold statewide office in Texas and he had previously declared himself to be a candidate for the U.S. Senate position currently held by Kay Bailey Hutchison.  Sharp also was a close friend of Perry at Texas A&M. While they have locked horns politically over the years, including in 1998 when they ran against one another for Lieutenant Governor, they have had a sort of rapprochement (if it’s okay to use that word in Texas politics, though the reconciliation did start at an Austin gun store) in recent years.  Sharp has remained a stalwart Texas Democrat to this day.

Let me be clear – the Governor of Texas doesn’t determine who is appointed to be Chancellor of the Texas A&M System or any other state university system.  The Board of Regents of a given university system does that and that task is taken very seriously by the independent Boards.  Still, it is hard to imagine that Rick Perry didn’t have any input in this decision.

If he did help encourage this decision, he may have managed to accomplish the following in one fell swoop:  he has eliminated a top-tier Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate (admittedly, it’s unlikely a Democrat would win that seat in 2012, but it doesn’t hurt to neutralize a top prospect), he’s placed a friend in charge of one of the top research universities in Texas and he may have helped put a new face on controversial higher education reforms that Perry and his allies have promoted.  On that last point, I’m not suggesting that Sharp is anything but his own man on any public policy issue (anyone who knows his reputation knows he is an independent thinker), but one would think that the next Chancellor of the Texas A&M System would consider the policies that the Governor’s allies have suggested, and it appears he is at least open to giving those policies some evaluation.

This may seem like Texas inside baseball, but I’d suggest this is a local example of what I have written about before.  Rick Perry is a very shrewd political actor who knows how to think more than a few steps ahead of his current move.  He shouldn’t be underestimated by anyone.

Recent Posts by Mark R. Yzaguirre

32 Comments so far ↓

  • Smargalicious

    Indeed, he shouldn’t be underestimated.

    Why is it that all the good looking folks (Mitt, Sarah, Michelle, and Rick) are all on the GOP side this year?

    • TerryF98

      Good looks if you like dyed hair, a wig and plastic surgery!

      But behind the fake skin deep “beauty” are empty brains and desolate souls.

    • gocart mozart

      Smarg has a crush on the Rickster!

    • anniemargret

      Hahahaha! Good looks? this is the GOP’s requirement for the leader of the Free World. They are all slick, but as soon as they open their mouths, their inner trailer trash potty mouths open wide. I have never in my life seen or heard such common vulgarity that the GOP has put out.

      Perry is the savior of the moment? This slick haired bottom feeder who hasn’t the good grace to respect the POTUS or even the office, by disgracing our President on the world stage by demeaning him as COC? What, those young soldiers will follow Pious Perry into yet another neocon war?

      And his disgraceful attack against Bernake, calling him ‘treasonous’ because he doesn’t like the policy?

      Send this yokel back to Texas! They already got the last yokel who was Prez still there, mending his fences and writing his memoirs, which we are all trying to forget.

      What a group – Slick Mitt, Pious Perry, Lamebrain Palin, & Sink the Country Bachmann.

  • armstp

    Rick Perry use to be a Democrat and in his heart and actually by a considerable bit of his actions he is likely still a Democrat. He just plays a Republican for personal ambition reasons.

    • gocart mozart

      Really? How far to the right does someone have to go to please you?

      • armstp

        He is plenty “far-right” for me. He is actually not all that conservative outside of social issues. The record shows in Texas that he is actually a big government guy. Conservatives like to tout him as a conservative, but he really is not per se. He actually started as a Democrat and his father was a big Democrat.

  • LFC

    I, for one, do not underestimate him. I saw the path of destruction left behind in the wake of the Bush years. Perry is more than capable of the same or worse. Bush managed to knock our nation to the ground. Perry could snap its neck.

  • ottovbvs

    “He shouldn’t be underestimated by anyone.”

    So how do reconcile Perry’s shrewdness with making public speeches (recorded) saying that the chairman of the Fed is a traitor? As it happens I don’t underestimate him for one minute and have long said that if he entered the race he was going to give Romney serious heartburn. The issue is whether this sort of idiocy is compatible with being a serious candidate for president.

    • LFC

      Otto, Perry is not a serious person to be President but he may be a serious candidate. This is now the Republican formula for their candidates and has been since 2000.

    • balconesfault

      So how do reconcile Perry’s shrewdness with making public speeches (recorded) saying that the chairman of the Fed is a traitor?

      Well, that soundbite, repeated over and over, may well help Perry win the GOP nomination.

    • gocart mozart

      Idiocy is a qualification.

  • TerryF98

    Perry has been on the trail two days and is already on his second serious gaffe. First was calling the Fed chief a traitor, now he is calling for the use of Troops on the border and drones to shoot illegals.

    Both totally against US law.

    • Frumplestiltskin

      C’mon Terry, the gaffe here was in stating we should use drones, but we have been using drones for a while. He did not state that the drones should shoot people. From TNR: you could be forgiven for not knowing the details of our current southwest border surveillance efforts, which include 250 towers with daytime and nighttime cameras, 38 truck-mounted infrared cameras and radar systems, 130 planes and helicopters, and, yes, a fleet of unmanned aircraft systems. The only possible charitable interpretation here is that by “drones,” Perry specifically meant autonomous unmanned aircraft, not remotely-controlled unmanned aircraft (“drone” technically refers only to the former, though it’s generally used to refer to both). It doesn’t sound like Perry was making that distinction, and in any case, it’s unimportant, because this is already policy. It is not, in any way, a new idea. In fact, The New York Times reported on the use of unmanned aircraft at the border almost two years ago. And it’s been over six months since DHS Secretary Napolitano gave a major speech announcing that Customs and Border Protection had Predators covering the entire southwest border, from the El Centro sector of California all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. She even gave the speech in El Paso! This shouldn’t be news to the governor of a massive border state.

      And calling Bernanke a traitor is not against the law, it was though thoroughly despicable.

      • TerryF98

        I was not talking about the Fed. I was talking about the use of regular soldiers on US soil and using drones in a combat situation in US airspace.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    Consider me unimpressed by this nomination. So much of life is about connections, Perry, as much as his input might have been, went with someone he knows and has rapport with. There is nothing shrewd about this (and what would prevent Sharp from running in any event? He could resign next year if he so chose. Obama did the same thing with Huntsman and Democrats swooned how wonderful and shrewd that was but they seemed to overestimate Republicans ability to recognize a true talent within the Republican field)
    I don’t underestimate him, he is a long standing governor of one of the largest states but lets not go overboard. It is but one position in literally thousands that Perry has a hand in, finding one Democrat in those thousands doesn’t make Perry a genius.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    and from the article Yzaguirre linked to: the statewide four-year graduation rate is about 28.6 percent compared to a national average closer to 40 percent. Degrees conferred in science, technology, engineering and math fields are particularly behind in reaching the state’s goals, as are teacher certifications.

    He has been Governor for 10 years, how long until he has an impact. Who the hell in the world considers Texas as being top notch academically? And how does Sharp’s appointment go towards the furtherance of making Texas up to being average?

    • balconesfault

      From what I can tell, Perry’s solution to the derth of science, technology, math and engineering degrees will be simply finding pathways to making it easier to issue a degree.

      From Perry’s “State of the State” address last February:

      “Today, I’m challenging our institutions of higher education to develop bachelor’s degrees that cost no more than $10,000, including textbooks,”

      Yep. I want to drive over a bridge designed by a bargain basement engineering grad!

      • Frumplestiltskin

        do comic books count as textbooks because I see a really good business opportunity in Texas if they do.

      • Xunzi Washington

        Perry thinks that the university system in 2011 can produce a BA for $1,250 a semester? Damn, he must be smoking some crazy stuff down there in Austin. Did he offer even the vaguest suggestions on how such a ridiculous thing would be accomplished?

      • DeathByIrony

        I have doubts that maintaining high prices for degrees makes them any more useful. We spend too much money on college, not just healthcare.

  • jnail

    Honestly Perry is not this smart nor is it really important.

  • valkayec

    First of all, Sharp and Perry are long time buddies, going back to their school days. So, the idea that they’re political opponents is inaccurate. Perry needed a chancellor at A&M who would whole-heartedly put his plan to change the first tier research university into a profit maker, per the initial plan by the “Texas Public Policy Foundation, an Austin-based conservative think tank, which has produced an ideological blueprint for how the state’s universities should be governed.” Sharp will go along with Perry’s desired plan.

    Here’s how the Texas Monthly puts it:

    “Rick Perry is waging an undeclared war on higher education—in particular, on the state’s two flagship institutions, the University of Texas and his own alma mater, Texas A&M. He has delegated higher education policy to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, an Austin-based conservative think tank, which has produced an ideological blueprint for how the state’s universities should be governed. The objectives are accountability, transparency, and productivity. Several of the TPPF’s recommendations have already been put into practice at Texas A&M. UT has resisted so far, but the administrators I spoke with believe the battle is likely to be a losing one. Just last month, the UT regents hired Rick O’Donnell, formerly the executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, as a special adviser. O’Donnell’s skeptical view of the value of research is in direct conflict with the model of a Tier One university. In short, the money changers are in the temple, and there is no getting them out.

    High-stakes political battles between governors and public universities are nothing new in Texas, a state that has at times seemed suspicious of the notion of a public university. Higher ed is, after all, intrinsically elitist, and Texas, with its frontier background, has always valued common sense above schooling, especially graduate-level schooling.”


  • gmckee1985

    What hole do all of you left wing weirdos crawl out of to post on the Frum Forum?

    • balconesfault

      Aww. Finding himself outgunned on breath of knowledge and on judgement, gmckee resorts to name-calling.

      Here’s a hint. Virtually every other conservative political site out there will ban a member for the faintest whiff of dissent from the right wing talking point du jour. We even have some conservatives here who have been banned from some of those sites for having had the temerity to question the “facts” being spun by one blogger or another.

      I’ve given Frum credit for this before, and I will again – he has created a forum where there’s an actual dialogue going on. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve learned things here from those who I disagree with much of the time, as well as from those I agree with much of the time.

      If you don’t want a site where you can learn something from those on the other side of the political divide, perhaps you just shouldn’t be here.

  • ExConSean

    “(admittedly, it’s unlikely a Democrat would win that seat in 2012, but it doesn’t hurt to neutralize a top prospect)”

    That’s where I perked up my ears. I suspect Mr. Sharp knows that he can’t win statewide office in Tea Party ground zero, and he’s too old to wait for the inevitable implosion of Teatard nation, so he brokered a personal deal with his old buddy for a soft landing to crown his career. Texas politics is about the back-scratching good ole’ boy network, and Perry’s reportedly a master of that domain.

  • medinnus

    I am clearly confused. The title seems to indicate that Perry actually did something, but then goes through great lengths to point out that the people who took those actions are not something he can directly effect.

    …I’m all for not dismissing and underestimating Perry, but this article doesn’t indicate anything one should consider in that context.

  • LFC

    ExConSean said… Texas politics is about the back-scratching good ole’ boy network, and Perry’s reportedly a master of that domain.

    From your mouth to the LA Times ear. They report that over the last decade, Perry has received over $37M or 1/3 of his campaign contributions from just 150 individuals / couples. And (surprise, surprise!) “nearly half of those mega-donors received hefty business contracts, tax breaks or appointments under Perry.”


    George W. Bush was the most purchased President I have ever seen in my lifetime, but if Perry were to win he’d make GW look almost independent.