Mmm Mmm Mmm! Barack Strawman Perry

| September 26, 2011 | Comments (3)

In the last debate, Rick Perry trotted a giant strawman onto the debate stage in Florida, lit it on fire, and danced around it like he was an extra in a remake of The Wicker Man. I spent a couple days trying to figure out why he’d launch such a knuckle-headed attack against at least half the people who will have to vote for him in Republican primaries, but I can’t come up with one. I’m left with the conclusion that when it comes to certain important issues, Rick Perry isn’t terribly different from President Barack Obama.

Here is the pertinent part of his answer to a question about illegal immigration from Thursday’s debate (video here, via memeorandum and full transcript here):

I supported Arizona’s immigration law by joining in that lawsuit to defend it. Every day I have Texans on that border that are doing their job. But if you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they’ve been brought there by no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart. We need to be educating these children, because they will become a drag on our society. I think that’s what Texans wanted to do.

[Emphasis mine]

That is an Obama-style strawman if ever I saw one. No one has argued that we should not educate children of illegal immigrants. No one has said they can’t go to college. The issue is, as Mitt Romney pointed out in his rebuttal, whether any state ought to give them a subsidy of up to $100,000. There are plenty of side issues in play as well. Let me list just a few:

  • What sort of job prospects those educated illegal immigrants have given that it is also against the law to hire an illegal immigrant, college-educated or not?
  • Why do Texas taxpayers spend more money to educate someone who will then have to break the law again to use that education than on the education of the children of American citizens who have obeyed our country’s rules but don’t live in Texas?
  • Is it fair for Texas to subsidize lawbreaking and penalize children of immigrant parents who spent many years and a lot of money to establish legal residence, and even citizenship?
I’m not going to attempt to answer these questions in this post. I only bring them up to point out that their answers have nothing at all to do with the softness of your heart. There are valid intellectual arguments on both sides of these issues and an honest man would have at least acknowledged their existence even if he didn’t agree with them. Perry doesn’t like the honest route, though. He’d rather model Barack Obama’s habit of erecting the “some say…” strawman so he can beat it with the bat of his compassionate righteousness. It’s far easier to vilify those on the other side than it is to admit that they have a rational and considered argument.
Rick Perry lost my vote Thursday night because of his arrogant imitation of our failed President. He said, after the debate, that we don’t need “the smoothest debater” in the White House. He’s right. What we need is someone who can spare a few minutes to think before he trashes me and a whole lot of other conservatives like me.  America has already had one thoughtless demagogue in the White House for the past three years. We don’t need to replace him with another one, even if he happens to agree with me once in a while.
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  1. Someone who thinks logically, provides a nice contrast to liberals. | Pundit League says:

    [...] @Jimmiebjr has an excellent article titled, “Mmm Mmm Mmm! Barack Strawman Perry.” You should all give it a [...]

  2. Felicia Cravens says:

    But really, people in Texas ARE saying that children of illegal immigrants shouldn’t even be allowed to attend primary and secondary school. I think Perry mashed it all together, and I’m not so fond of the idea of in-state tuition for illegal aliens (though I kind of understand it). But don’t kid yourself that no one is saying that we shouldn’t educate the children of illegals. We are. Loudly in some circles.

    Which begs the question, what in HELL would we have these kids do all day instead of attend school? God forbid we find out.

    • Jimmie says:

      You can find a handful to espouse any position in the world, but I dare say that even in Texas, the notion that we shouldn’t educate children of illegal immigrants at all is a minority position among minority positions. It certainly doesn’t rise to the level to which Rick Perry elevated it. When I say “no one”, I’m using the normal rhetorical trick of discounting the “moon landing was fake” type of arguments you will always find around issues like these. :)

      The issue at question, though, was college. That’s different from primary or secondary schools.

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