George W. Bush, the Texan who copied Ronald Reagan's phony machismo to the letter, at the 2000 Republican National Convention adopted the ah shucks tone in his acceptance speech that Karl Rove mandated, then slipped in what he hoped would be an effective one-liner.
Using a saying stuck to bumpers of numerous SUVs of Lone Star State residents, Bush declared:
"Don't mess with Texas!"
Here was the new sharpshooter in town, and who mastered this role? The politician that Bush and other neoconservative Republicans seek to model themselves after, Ronald W. Reagan. The two term California governor was the original clone, an actor who knew his place and stuck as best he could to his lines.
Since Reagan had years of experience wearing a cowboy hat in numerous roles and as host of the popular television program Death Valley Days, he was more of a natural at the role than clones following the original clone, namely the two Texas models of formerly George W. Bush and currently Governor Rick Perry.
Just as Bush fired off his warning salvo as the tough new sheriff in town, Perry followed suit in the same manner when asked about Federal Reserve policy. Much has been written and with good reason about the portion of Perry's statement equating Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's policies with "treason" but the other comment is also important, and outlines the faux figure embodied in Reagan posing with cowboy hat in western attire along with the accompanying peroration, "This is Reagan country!"
Perry's comment was to the effect of, "I don't know how you would handle something like that in Iowa but I know how we would handle it in Texas."
We have now reached the point where any difference between rough and tumble commentary from the likes of Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly, the "let's get tough" element from people who pour invective over the airwaves, to presidential candidates willing to use it to win more faithful to the flock while simultaneously rewarding those already aboard who can then respond with glowing amens.
The portion of Perry's "let's get tough Texas style" that is designed to play to the masses can have a chilling result. What is such a statement but a call for vigilante justice? Only in an era of a mainstream media spending time on echoes rather than original commentary, a truly submissive state, not Michele Bachmann's word twisting, would a statement such as Perry's go unnoticed and unexamined.
In rural Washington state recently a disgruntled citizen, his tank filled with macho vitriol from talk radio, decided to take matters into his own hands. Thankfully in this case the putative vigilante was apprehended by authorities before he could carry out his announced assassination attempt on Senator Patty Murray.
It was Ronald Reagan who, threatening a veto, smiled broadly and exclaimed for Congress' benefit, "Go ahead and make my day!" This was tough guy symbolism of the narrator of Death Valley Days using a line from Clint Eastwood as San Francisco Police Detective Dirty Harry Callaghan.
Rick Perry slides into the same groove as he tells those listening about how Texans would take care of a guy like Ben Bernanke if he dared to print more money than they deemed acceptable. His strident machismo is surely an effort to gain one up advantage with fellow Tea Party presidential contender Bachmann.