Opinion
FILE -- Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry holds up a cup of coffee out the window of his car as he departs the Huckabee Forum 2, a televised event, in Charleston, S.C., Jan. 14, 2012. (REUTERS/Jason Reed) FILE -- Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry holds up a cup of coffee out the window of his car as he departs the Huckabee Forum 2, a televised event, in Charleston, S.C., Jan. 14, 2012. (REUTERS/Jason Reed)  

Rick Perry Admirably Refuses To Shake Obama’s Hand At Airport

Photo of Patrick Howley
Patrick Howley
Political Reporter

Don’t call him Chris Christie.

Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry refused to greet President Barack Obama at a tarmac photo-op this week, and instead challenged Obama to hold a “substantive meeting” with him to discuss the illegal immigration crisis currently engulfing states along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The White House requested that Perry meet Obama on the tarmac Wednesday as he gets off Air Force One on his way to Democratic fundraisers in Texas, which could have created another tableau like the “Chris Christie hug” during Superstorm Sandy, which helped Obama in the 2012 election. But Perry wasn’t having it.

“I appreciate the offer to greet you at Austin-Bergstrom Airport, but a quick handshake on the tarmac will not allow for a thoughtful discussion regarding the humanitarian and national security crises enveloping the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas,” Perry wrote to Obama in a letter Monday. “I would instead offer to meet with you at any time during your visit to Texas for a substantive meeting to discuss this critical issue.”

Is this the kind of move that liberal media types will pounce on, letting them drone on about supposedly irrational Republican hatred of the president? Yes. Was it also the right decision on Perry’s part? Absolutely.

Whether blocking Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion in his state or proudly luring companies away from high-tax California to settle in Texas, Perry has been a consistent thorn in the side of Obama and national Democrats during the president’s second term. Perry’s refusal to play along with a cute bipartisan White House photo-op — in which an effective Republican governor would have had to greet an ineffective globe-trotting Democratic president like some kind of emasculated butler — at least showed some cojones.

Perry’s refusal was a quick denunciation of the media-savvy way that Obama governs. Why should the governor of one of our largest and most important states have to play along with a president that blamed an al-Qaida attack on a YouTube video or joked about Obamacare’s damage to American citizens on a lame Internet comedy show? Why should Rick Perry have to play his part in Obama’s running cult of personality?

Christie could have at least blamed his moment of indignity on a need to get federal funding for his state by playing politics (he didn’t, instead perpetuating the falsehood that Obama was doing a “good job” during the storm). But Perry doesn’t need to play that game. Perry needs to manage Obama’s current crisis at the border, where our president is intentionally losing James Polk’s war of 1846-1848 (even after, as Dinesh D’Souza notes, we gave them back half the land we won in that war).

And has Obama really done anything to foster the kind of political environment in which bipartisan photo-ops can still take place in a non-ironic fashion? The mainstream media likes to pretend that we still live in a country where the president is the president and the other party should just smile wide and photo-bomb White House selfies to show that there’s no hard feelings.

But the media didn’t report the truth about how Obama’s Internal Revenue Service audited, harassed and marginalized conservatives across the country simply for practicing their right to political speech. The media didn’t report the truth about the Obama administration’s systematic abuse of our veterans or intimidation tactics at the Department of Justice. Even in the earliest days of this administration, the media didn’t report the truth about how the White House was telling Americans to report on their anti-Obamacare neighbors and send secret reports on their fellow citizens to flag@whitehouse.gov.

Let’s be honest here: Barack Obama has not led, to borrow a phrase from George H.W. Bush, a “kinder and gentler nation.” Frankly, he hasn’t been a very nice guy.

Do the White House folks really expect a Republican governor to clasp palms with Barack Obama, a man whose left-wing establishment introduced false cries of “Racism” and “Sexism” into mainstream politics to smear his opponents on each and every issue? Do they think Republicans will just forget about the time Obama told a national television audience before the government shutdown that Republicans are “not focused on you”? Do they want Perry to step in for “Mr. Roarke” in some kind of Obama-land reimagining of “Fantasy Island,” tending to the president’s every whim? Is that really the kind of treatment Obama thinks he deserves at this point?

“They’re calling for me to have a beer with Mitch McConnell,” Obama said in one of those White House Correspondents Dinners that he thinks define his presidency. “Seriously? Why don’t YOU have a beer with Mitch McConnell?”

Good one, Mr. President. But at this point, nobody on the conservative side of the country wants to have a beer with you. And they certainly don’t want their governors shaking your hand for idiotic DNC email postcards.

We’re not in the business of complimenting politicians, but on this one: Bravo, Rick Perry. Bravo.

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