Joyce L. Arnold: Liberal, lesbian, Independent, equality activist, writer.
The much mentioned prayer meeting at Reliant Stadium in Houston, “The Response,” took place on Saturday, August 6. Organizers said “more than 30,000” attended.
As expected, Texas Gov. Rick Perry – who initiated The Response – did not announce his candidacy for the Republican Party presidential nominee. But that he will soon announce is also expected, within hours or days, some say. For fundraising and nationally organizing purposes, it will have to be soon, if he’s going to do it.
Even Rick knew better than use what organizers insisted was a non-denominational (you could come, whatever your faith, but as promised, everything said was “in the name of Jesus”) and non-political prayer meeting to make such an announcement. In fact, while his time on the stage was fairly brief, his words included this, via the Texas Tribune:
… Perry said God’s agenda is ‘not a political agenda, his agenda is a salvation agenda.’ …
‘He is a wise God and he is wise enough not to be affiliated with any political party or for that matter, he is wise enough not to be affiliated with any man-made institution’ …
Also from The Tribune, Perry prayed:
Our heart breaks for America. We see discord at home, we see fear in the market place, we see anger in the halls of governments, and as a nation we have forgotten who made us. … We cry out for (God’s) forgiveness.
I actually have no reason to think Perry isn’t sincere in his praying. But I question his governing decisions in Texas, and based on those, I fear what they’d be in the WH. Maybe his heart is “breaking for America,” but watching the significant budget cuts to public schools, as one glaring example, makes me wonder what goes on deep in the heart of Perry.
While some 30,000 gathered in Reliant Stadium, an estimated 100,000 lined up at Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center. Via Burnt Orange Report:
The Houston Chronicle reports:
‘Some families camped out for hours to gain admittance into Houston’s first-ever, citywide back-to-school event … where free backpacks, school supplies, uniforms, haircut vouchers, immunizations and fresh produce were provided.
Unfortunately, many were turned away. Burnt Orange:
… School Superintendent Terry Grier posted a Twitter message Saturday morning that security personnel had estimated the crowd at 100,000. At about 10 a.m., officials made the call to close the doors.
Although planners didn’t know how many people would attend, they expected to serve at least 25,000 children, officials said.
Where are the gasping media reports of over 100,000 Texans waiting in the hot sun for school supplies and food? Where are the statistics about how Texas has some of the highest rates nationally of poverty and food insecurity in all of the breathless coverage of Rick Perry’s ‘Texas Miracle’?
Whatever The Response did, it got the attention Perry surely wanted. Of course, more media attention also means greater scrutiny. Or at least it should. From The Tribune :
The interest from news outlets might be greater than anything Perry has encountered in his nearly 30-year career in Texas politics. More than 230 members of the media, including representatives from all the major national TV networks and newspapers, have signed up for credentials, officials said.
I don’t know if Perry shares the more radical and extreme beliefs of those who took the stage (see Right Wing Watch for Fact Sheet on the organizer), but if he doesn’t, it just makes his willingness to associate himself with them that much more telling. If we’ve learned nothing else, it should be to pay very close attention to what presidential hopefuls actually do, as well as what they say, on their way to the WH. “Just praying” can be like “just words” – perhaps sincere, perhaps marketing, perhaps some of each.
For a year or so, I thought Perry was looking to 2016. I still think that’s in play, but maybe he decided he couldn’t afford to wait. First, because running now could be the obvious “setting the groundwork” step for next time around. And second, because the idea that Obama might be seriously challenged makes stepping in now more important. At this point, I still think Obama will win a second term, and so far, the Republicans are helping with that. I actually think some if not many of them would be okay with an Obama second term – 2014 mid-term election gain hopes, and a nation ready for another round of flipping back and forth between Rep and Dem in the WH; plus four more years of blaming Obama and Dems for all the problems.
As for Perry, and with apologies to Janis Joplin, I imagine Rick might be praying: “Oh Lord, won’t you buy me the presidency. My friends all say, ‘Rick, you look great on tv.’ God, Guns and Gays, with some oil to make me shine. Oh Lord, won’t you buy me the presidency.”
This last bit is about Perry, but not The Response, and mostly because I chose not to resist. I’ve no idea who to credit for this quote, or if it is remotely accurate in its implications, but I saw it in a tweet from JennTXDem: “Lord, going to LaGrange was much more important than grades at A&M. …” That’s a reference to the recent release of Perry’s transcripts from Texas A&M, which revealed a less than stellar academic record. If “LaGrange” doesn’t make sense to you, maybe you remember or have heard about the movie “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”? It was based, loosely, on an actual whorehouse: The Chicken Ranch, in LaGrange, TX. Just up the road from Texas A&M.
(Photo via Think Progress)