The cowboy mystique

In the less than two weeks since he threw his hat in the ring, Gov. Rick Perry has catapulted into the national spotlight as a top GOP contender for the 2012 presidential race. In fact, Perry has taken the lead among Republican candidates, according to results released Wednesday from the most recent Gallup poll.

This is not the first time Perry has received national media attention. Last year, numerous reputable news outlets clamored to cover the governor’s showdown with a coyote; while jogging, the governor shot the animal with his laser-sighted pistol when it threatened his daughter’s Labrador retriever. Similarly, the media spotlight currently focused on Perry portrays the image of a rugged and fearless Texan ready to make the federal government as “inconsequential” as he can, as he promised he would in his presidential announcement speech on Aug. 13 in Charleston, S.C.

While Perry continues to soak up the media sun, voters across the nation will continue to learn about his decade-long term as governor of Texas. Within days of becoming governor in 2001, he told Texans higher education would remain his top priority, according to the Austin American-Statesman. However, serious improvements have yet to be seen. Perry’s support for the “seven breakthrough solutions,” or proposed reforms for higher education, and his style-over-substance call for a $10,000 bachelor’s degree program show how disconnected he is from the realities of higher education in the state.

In short, voters across the nation don’t know Perry like we know him. His education track record is one of many that suggests he is charging around the country on a platform of minimal substance. We hope voters and journalists in the other 49 states will look past our governor’s “cowboy mystique” and seriously evaluate the decisions he has made in office.