Rick Perry: Curiously Similar to Michele Bachmann on Science

By The Intersection | August 11, 2011 6:30 pm

By Jon Winsor

Rick Perry, who is supposed to announce his presidential candidacy this weekend, is presently only two points behind Mitt Romney, according to a recent CNN poll. So where does he stand on science?

Rick Perry joins Bachmann in advocating for intelligent design, recently commenting:

“There are clear indications from our people who have amazing intellectual capability that this didn’t happen by accident and a creator put this in place,” Perry said.

“Now, what was his time frame and how did he create the earth that we know? I’m not going to tell you that I’ve got the answers to that,” Perry said. “I believe that we were created by this all-powerful supreme being and how we got to today versus what we look like thousands of years ago, I think there’s enough holes in the theory of evolution to, you know, say there are some holes in that theory.”

Teaching the controversy“– the Discovery Institute would love that. Perry is also solidly in the climate change denialist camp, saying back in 2007 (when many of his fellow GOP governors were acknowledging the scientific consensus):

“Virtually every day another scientist leaves the global warming bandwagon. … But you won’t read about that in the press because they have already invested in one side of the story. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be good stewards of our environment. We should. I am just saying when politics hijack science, it quells true scientific debate and can have dire consequences for our future.”

…Asked for elaboration on the scientists who Perry said are abandoning the “global warming bandwagon,” his office listed two dozen recent articles, almost none about scientists. They range from calls for Gore to lose his Academy Award to a posting from the Tehran Times (“Iran’s leading international daily”) stating that Gore doesn’t deserve the Nobel Peace Prize because as a senator he voted to authorize the first Gulf War.

TalkingPointsMemo DC did an informal poll at the recent Heartland Institute International Convention on Climate Change and found Perry to be a strong presidential favorite among conference goers (with Michele Bachmann running second).

Like Bachmann, Perry bills himself as a libertarian. But curiously similar to Bachmann, Perry’s libertarianism is imbued with a certain strong, but decidedly idiosyncratic claim to moral authority. Perry doesn’t have the homeschooling activism in his background as Bachmann does, but he certainly has some interesting religious autodidacts enrolled in his cause. And Perry’s 2010 book Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America From Washington makes a passionate case for states rights (two of Bachmann’s intellectual mentors were states rights advocates). Lately, Perry has been trying to reconcile his states rights libertarianism with a nation-wide social conservatism, but he’s been a staunch enough states rights advocate to have flirted with the concept of secessionism in 2009:

Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday stuck by his earlier statement that Texas can secede from the United States — a far-reaching, legally questionable prospect that nevertheless drew Perry a fresh favorable mention by Rush Limbaugh, one of the nation’s leading conservative voices…

According to The Associated Press, Perry suggested in response to a reporter’s question that Texans might at some point get so fed up with Democratic-led actions in Washington that they would want to secede.

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that? But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

On Thursday, Perry called potential secession a “side issue of Texas history. … We are very proud of our Texas history; people discuss and debate the issues of can we break ourselves into five states, can we secede, a lot of interesting things that I’m sure Oklahoma and Pennsylvania would love to be able to say about their states, but the fact is, they can’t because they’re not Texas.”

A Perry spokeswoman said Perry believes Texas could secede if it wanted.

The story’s reporter contacted a Texas law professor for comment:

Sanford Levinson, a professor at the School of Law at the University of Texas at Austin, said that between the Texas Constitution, the U.S. Constitution and the 1845 Joint Resolution Annexing Texas to the United States, there is no explicit right for the state to return to its days as a republic.

“We actually fought a war over this issue, and there is no possibility whatsoever that the United States or any court would recognize a ‘right’ to secede,” Levinson said in an e-mail.

Here’s a tip for the Perry camp: Maybe Perry could find a legal scholar at Discovery or Heartland to argue that Texas could secede?

MORE ABOUT: rick perry

Comments (21)

  1. That’s the false con-job-servative position: claim that you side knows th e constitution whilst being very ignoranct about it. And Ryan is trying to pull the bait and switch of getting voters to go for that insurance scheme to have people get vouchers that never would be enoough, and in effect making people pay the insurance companies more ” taxes” than they now do in real taxes!
    The Republi-cannots cannot get the ecoonomy going but can help the super rich, who don’t necessarily want all that largesse!

  2. Incredulous

    Wow Chris, that was an exceptionally evenhanded discussion of Perry. Thanks.

    In the original agreement when Texas entered the U.S., it was expressly allowed that Texas could secede once it joined. I don’t know how it was redefined by the aftermath of the Civil War but the precedent of secession by the other states was pretty definitively decided. Regardless, it is just silly posturing and flag waving at any rate. Even if it were legally possible, it would not be popular enough within Texas to pull off. We are here to stay.

    The other provision that is interesting is that Texas can be redivided into up to seven separate states. (If I remember the history for the number, it has been years.) Again, unlikely.

    Texas is an odd state. It is predominantly Democrat in many respects but hangs onto a thin Republican lead right now mainly for economic reasons. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats in Texas really fit the mold of their respective parties elsewhere in the country.

    There are also some quite *fringe* religious groups in some of the rural areas. I’m sure you have seen enough of them on the news. The only thing that made the ones in Waco stand out as unusual was the weapons angle.

  3. Messier Tidy Upper

    Aren’t *all* the Republican candidates at least “officially” similar in their climate Contrarianism and rejection of the overwhelming scientific consensus that the Anthropogenic Global Warming problem is real and serious and needs to be addressed today?

    Because whatever they may think (or not think) privately doesn’t the Tea party have sadly large clout and isn’t it almost political suicide for any of them to break the Fox news Denialist line?

    I gather Mitt Romney got in trouble a few months ago for accepting the science on it and was forced to recant right?

    Is he – or John Huntsman – the best they’ve got but still not very good on this matter pro-science, pro-action candidates~wise? Is there that much differnece between the Republicands on this?

    This non-American interested Australian observer of US politics is curious to know.

  4. Messier Tidy Upper

    PS. Why is my comment not showing up immediastely and being edit~able here like it is on the Bad Astronomy blog? Why is the comments posting situation different on such similar ‘Discover’ blogs?

    Hope there aren’t too many typos in what I’e just (tried to) post above. 🙁

    Please can we get editing orpreview capability here if we haven’t already or is it just me and if so can it be fixed for me? [Puzzled.]

  5. Solitha

    @2… “In the original agreement when Texas entered the U.S., it was expressly allowed that Texas could secede once it joined.”


    The provision allowing for Texas to be split (into 5 states, btw) was about the balance of free states vs slave states in the country at the time.


    This power is not unique to Texas. Read Article IV, Section 3 of the US Constitution.

  6. The Intersection

    #3, Is there that much differnece between the Republicands on this?

    I’d say Bachmann and Perry are similar in being major candidates who are “all in” against science. They’re going all in for revving up the Republican base on the subject. The interesting thing is that they’re similar in other ways (states rights, an association with the religious fringe).

    Romney is an interesting case which I covered here:


    I don’t think Romney exactly recanted. His response was carefully parsed. He told the base something they wanted to hear, but didn’t present huge clashes with his record as governor of Massachusetts (some clashes, but not huge, insurmountable ones). Pawlenty on the other hand, fully recanted even though it clashes hugely with his record.

    –Jon Winsor

  7. Chris Mooney

    Basically, this is now a litmus test issue among republicans so they are all going to have to toe the line, at least if they want to be elected…


  8. The Intersection

    I think Romney will do what it takes to get nominated, and then turn out his base in the general election. And basically that means not talking about the subject, and even talking it down (as he did in that clip I linked to above).

  9. TTT

    To Perry and the rest of his species of fair-weather patriots who wave the flag with one hand while writing threats to secede with the other, I say: GTFO already. Love it or leave it, pinko traitors.

  10. Incredulous

    #5. Solitha


    Where it is, I don’t remember, it was in the later negotiations pointed to in the link you posted:

    “as soon as the terms and conditions of such admission, and the cession of the remaining Texian territory to the United States shall be agreed upon by the governments of Texas and the United States”

    But as I also sated, the rights of states to secede was pretty clearly defined by the civil war which if you remember happened after Texas entering the union and seceding with the south.

    “The provision allowing for Texas to be split (into 5 states, btw) was about the balance of free states vs slave states in the country at the time.”

    Thanks, I had forgotten how many. I don’t see it happening either. Although the way things are right now, I think a lot of people in Texas would be all for cutting out Austin and giving it away.

  11. Incredulous

    4. Messier Tidy Upper

    “PS. Why is my comment not showing up immediastely and being edit~able here like it is on the Bad Astronomy blog? ”

    I think that there are some network/server issues. It has been acting odd lately. Things will be slow, then offline. They seem to be getting things back up running smoothly though. Sometimes it just takes time.

    “doesn’t the Tea party have sadly large clout”

    Not as much as they would like everyone to think. They are still presently just a small vocal minority with sound bites the press likes to play.

  12. Vision Engineer

    This isn’t the main point in the original post, but secession was never decided. A war was fought and won by the non-secessionists. The legal question was never sought nor been answered. I remember reading (and am looking for a source) that Lincoln wanted to prosecute the seceding states legally but was advised not to because there was a good chance that he would lose. Secession had been discussed many times in the decades prior to the civil war with little consensus. Imagine that we fought a war today amongst the states over the individual health care mandate without any legal process occurring. Would winning the war really “decide” the issue? No, the winner would tell the loser how it is going to be. While there is no explicit right for any state to secede in the constitution, there is no prohibition. Also, the constitution makes it clear that any rights not specifically given to the federal government were reserved to the people or the states. A good legal argument can be made for secession. It would probably be the most interesting and important (and scary) case to ever come before the Supreme Court. I would imagine it would be very hard for any justice that came to the legal conclusion that the states have a right to secede to remain objective and write that opinion given the inevitable consequences should secession be decided legal. It would almost certainly mean the end of the United States as we know it.

  13. Incredulous

    #12 Vision Engieer

    Well, if a presidential proclamation by Andrew Johnson that has not been found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court doesn’t decide the current status of the idea, I don’t know what would. :

    “And did further declare in the same proclamation that it is the manifest determination of the American people that no State, of its own will, has a right or power to go out of or separate itself from, or be separated from the American Union; and that, therefore, each State ought to remain and constitute an integral part of the United States”

    Now, as to the myth or reality of an original condition allowing secession, I don’t know beyond what I was taught in school. It’s a fun thought but the legality of doing it now has been decided in many ways.

  14. Vision Engineer

    A presidential proclamation does not settle the issue legally at all. A presidential proclamation is simply that: a presidential proclamation. It does not carry the same weight as law nor can it override the constitution. It also does not address whether a state retains the right of secession constitutionally or not until that proclamation is actually brought before the Supreme Court and a decision is rendered. Until such time, it is still an open question. The fourteenth amendment does provide some rationale against secession, but because it is in conflict with the ninth and tenth amendments, and it was ratified under duress during a military occupation of the southern states, it is still an open question. It is doubtful that justices would side with secession simply because they themselves derive their power from the very institution that secession would most likely destroy.

  15. Incredulous

    14. Vision Engineer

    Actually a presidential proclamation (or Executive Orders) does carry weight of law… as far as the Congress and Supreme Court allow it to.

    I can’t say how it would play out in action though. The President could send out the troops as Commander in Chief and I can’t say that the Congress or Courts could immediately take action. and I wonder if the War Powers Act would apply in the case of Insurrection.

    It is an interesting question but the legality would most likely be decided by the winning force rather than law. Of course it would not be the first time for Texas to have it’s troops lined up on the border.

    Now, if they went the other way and started an amendment expressly allowing it, or sued the government for the right and then let it go through the courts would probably be the only mechanisms to pull it off. Mainly, it would just be theatrics.

  16. Jody

    @all. Dudes. Seriously? Snopes and Wikipedia both have articles on the “Texas has the right to secede ” myth. It’s called Google, use it.

  17. Incredulous

    16. Jody

    Bah, that’s no fun. It is more enlightening to go to the original documents. I am really interested in finding the source for the idea of Texas having the right to secede. Having gone to school in Texas, we had it in all of our textbooks. It had to come from somewhere. Even though it is a meaningless piece of trivia, it is an interesting insight into the history. Much like reading the Federalist and such.

  18. WVhybrid

    >The Intersection Says:
    >August 12th, 2011 at 7:39 am

    >I think Romney will do what it takes to get nominated, and then turn out his base in the general >election. And basically that means not talking about the subject, and even talking it down (as he did >in that clip I linked to above).

    Would that put him in the category of “Compassionate Conservative” ?

  19. Daniel Murphy

    Was Texas ever granted a special right to secede? Perry may say yes, but the Texas State Library says no:



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