Dear Yankee

Eight things you ought to know before you start writing stories about Rick Perry. You’re welcome.

Here we go again. As you know, Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, is contemplating a presidential run, which means that any day now, your boss will be sending you down here to take the measure of the man. Though he managed to avoid the 2012 spotlight longer than any other candidate, Perry, the nation’s longest-serving governor, has lately become, in the words of a recent NPR report, “the eight-hundred-pound gorilla on the sidelines of this race.” The trickle of stories about him has become a stream, and the minute Perry declares his candidacy, that stream will become a flood, a flood that will carry you straight to Austin. I am writing you this note in the hope that it will help you avoid the political and sociological clichés that Texas is subjected to every time one of our politicians seeks the national stage.

It’s an experience we’re all too familiar with. A Texan has occupied the White House in 17 of the past 48 years—just over a third of the time. Texas has become an incubator for presidents, as Virginia and Ohio were in America’s distant past. I’ll grant you that the presidents we have sent to Washington, from LBJ to 
George W. Bush, have not always served as the best advertisements for Texas. Nevertheless, we have endured a disproportionate amount of bad writing about our state from journalists who don’t know very much about the place, and I for one can’t bear to suffer through another campaign of it.

So please, heed this advice. Rick Perry, as you have no doubt already discovered, is not the easiest man to write about. He is secretive and leery of the

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