For a successful politician, and Perry has known nothing but success in his career, Perry lacks, for want of a better term, a normalcy compass–the instinct to understand where the majority of Americans stand on the conventional wisdom of the day. He has spent his entire career on the far right of the political spectrum, and sometimes he loses touch with what ordinary people who do not live in that neighborhood believe. Most of them, I daresay, accept the theory of evolution. Most of them believe that global warming is a scientific fact, though there may be room for argument about the role of human activity. And most of them want clean air and clean water. I don’t think his latest pronouncement on environmental policy, incorporated in a letter Perry spokesman Mark Miner wrote to the Texas Tribune, is something the majority of Americans would agree with: The governor’s energy priorities will be centered around scaling back the EPA’s intrusive, misguided and job-killing policies, which will empower states to foster their own energy resources without crippling mandates and open the doors for our nation to pursue and strengthen an all-of-the-above energy approach. [End of excerpt from a longer letter, available in full on the Tribune web site.] Readers will recall that during the past several years, Perry engaged in a long-running battle with EPA that he had no hope of winning. Perry argued for a policy that would allow Texas to average the output of pollution sources, rather than to determine whether each individual source was in compliance with federal law. Previous EPA administrators had allowed Texas to do this, but EPA did not approve the latest state plan. Creaming statistics, Perry argued that Texas had made great strides in cleaning up pollution, but EPA determined that the state was still not in compliance with federal law. Perry’s response, typically, was to call EPA a “rogue agency.” As I said above, I think that most Americans want clean air and clean water. I doubt that they regard the nation’s enforcer of environmental laws as a “rogue agency.” Just watch: Texas’s environmental record will soon be under the media microscope, and it isn’t going to be pretty. * * * * This is yet another instance in which the Perry campaign’s choice of words has been deliberately inflammatory. I don’t see the gain in this. He is winning the same votes two and three times, but at the price of imitating a loose cannon.
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