It seems Rick Perry is the new Sarah Palin. (Or is that the old Sarah Palin? If you were once the hot-go-to-politician and now you are just a reality-starlet without a TV show, does that make you the new Sarah Palin or the old Sarah Palin?) Like Palin, Perry is the person media loathes politically but adores reporting on personally.
To be honest, I don’t know much about Rick Perry. I have this rule that I try to follow — never elect a Texan president no matter which party they align themselves with. Don’t get me wrong. I like Texans. I know a bunch of them and they are all good and kindly people. I like to hang out with them, eat with them, toss back a couple of tequilas with them. I like going to church with them. And I like to go to football games and baseball games with Texans. I just don’t like going to war with them and the track record for presidents from Texas reveal a certain proclivity towards war. Texans, I’ve found, behave best in Texas, not Washington, D.C. — but then I guess that could be said about most people, heh?
I did listen to a debate between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney. I noted at the time that they reminded me a lot of the Smothers Brothers. They seem so similar, like they grew up in the same home fighting over a catcher’s mitt. From what I know of the two of them, I like them both. I’d have them over for peach pie, if they brought the ice cream.
But it’s apparent to me that media in general doesn’t like Rick Perry.
I don’t know why, exactly. My friend Bert has a problem with Rick Perry’s affinity for Ted Nugent. Frankly, I couldn’t name a Ted Nugent tune if you paid me $200, but Bert claims that Nugent and Perry make an odd couple. Some of my best friendships have been odd pairings so I am prone to overlook the Nugent-Perry friendship.
But I’m far more uncomfortable with the way media is pouncing on Perry. Consider that article in the Washington Post that attempts to paint Perry in a negative light because he grew up in the segregated south and his family leased a hunting camp inappropriately named “Niggerhead.”
It’s not clear who gave the hunting camp that name, or who painted the name on a rock at the gate’s front entrance. But it was Perry’s father who painted over the offensive name, reportedly after Perry complained to his parents about it, sometime in the 1980s, or maybe the 1990s or perhaps in the 2000s. If you believe the news reports, and I’m not saying I do, one person claimed to have seen the name on the rock in 2008. I prefer a great deal more verification than one person, unnamed, before I go reporting something as fact.
It’s a smear campaign of sorts. One that media has long conducted towards Southerners in general. It is widely assumed that if you grew up in the segregated south you are a racist. As someone who did grow up in the segregated south, but who has spent the past 30 years in the Great Northwest, I can assure you that the South doesn’t have a corner market on racism. I spent far too many years in a town in Oregon that was only 7 percent minority — and that minority was relegated to a reservation. So I don’t take kindly to high-minded media types purporting that a person who grew up in the South must have some hidden racist agenda.
I doubt very much that Rick Perry is any more racist than the journalists insinuating that he is.
That said, Perry’s father should have done more than paint over the offensive name. He should have removed the rock altogether. And if his father wasn’t able-bodied enough to do it, Perry should have put his shoulder to the boulder and moved it himself.
But the fact that land leased by Perry or his family was given such an offensive name is not a news story. It’s just gossip with a headline. It’s a shameful journalistic practice, one created by a 24-7 media culture and poor ethics.
Journalists need to quit telling everybody else how to do a better job and start practicing what they preach.