Saturday, August 20, 2011

My Meeting With Rick

I know I've already blogged on this, but now that he's running for President, it's useful to re-tell the story of my meeting with Rick Perry.
It was a number of years ago. I was in Texas to give a speech. But I had a few hours free before the speech, and the very friendly fellow who'd brought me down to address his group made me an offer I couldn't refuse: How would I like to meet Texas Governor Rick Perry and sit in on a meeting he was having with two gentlemen from Mexico.
I soon found myself sitting in a small conference room in the hotel where my speech was to take place. I was introduced to the two gentlemen from Mexico: an older, distinguished looking man who, it turned out, was the publisher or Mexico City's largest and most influential newspaper, and a young, movie-star handsome gentleman who was a member of the Mexico Senate.
They were there, they explained to me, to ask Governor Perry about the open-meetings law and provisions of US law that required more transparency in government.
In Mexico, it seemed, there were no such laws, and they were researching the ways the laws worked in the US to make the case back home that Mexico would benefit from more open government.
After we waited awhile, the Governor came in. Sat down across from us. Put his big boots on the glass-topped coffee table so we could all admire his official state-seal-of-Texas cowboy boots.
And then, without warning, he started in on a diatribe about water that Mexico was illegally withholding from Texas.
"We know it's there," he said, twanging away like a hillbilly. "We got satellites kin prove it. Satellites show us real clear you all are keeping that water on yer side of the border. And that's wrong, see. That's against the treaty we have with you all."
And on and on. All about the illegal impoundment of water by the Mexicans, depriving Texans of their legal rights to all that water.
There was nothing to do but sit there with the two Mexicans and listen to him rail on about something these two gentlemen had no authority over and hadn't come to talk about.
Finally, having had his say about water, Perry turned to the matter at hand, government transparency, open meetings, sunshine laws.
"What ya got to understand," he said, "was these laws are a double-edged sword. Now you take the problem of bidness plans."
Let me stop here.
He actually said "bidness."
Not business. Bidness.
"Now you take the problem of bidness plans."
He looked at the two Mexicans.
"You all know what a bidness plan is, right? That's what you got to have when you want to start a bidness. Well, in Texas, if someone writes up a bidness plan and then goes to the government for some kind of assistance, well, they got to show the government their bidness plan. Now, under all those laws, that means that bidness plan could be read by just about anybody who wants to. So that's how transparency works, see? It's a double-edged sword."
The meeting was over soon.
After Perry left, I looked at the two gentlemen from Mexico
They shrugged.
I tried to apologize to them, although I had nothing to apologize for. Other than being an American and in the same room.
Finally, the young, handsome Senator said, "I'm glad he explained what a business plan is. That wasn't something we covered when I was getting my MBA from the Stanford business school."
Now Rick Perry is running for President of the United States.
He doesn't accept the science behind global climate change.
He wants to teach creationism in the schools on a par with evolutionary theory.
He sees nothing wrong with conducting a Christians-only prayer rally as Governor of Texas.
He threatened to look into Texas seceding from the Union.
I only got a glimpse of the remarkable insensitivity and mind-numbing simplicity of the way this man thinks, talks, works, and treats others.
Imagine what he could do in the White House.
Maybe it's time for another prayer rally--all denominations.
We'll think of something appropriate to pray for.

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