exas is burning. Since Sept. 4, flames have engulfed more than 100,000 acres of the drought-stricken state, destroying more than 1,000 homes and killing four people. The worst wildfires in state history are also "forcing Gov. Rick Perry to walk a philosophical tightrope," says Patrik Jonsson in The Christian Science Monitor. "A strong advocate for a smaller federal government," the new GOP presidential frontrunner has nevertheless been "berating the Obama administration for dragging its heels in sending federal taxpayer money and resources to Texas." The federal government has stepped in, and President Obama told Perry more aid is coming. But is Perry's posture "hypocritical"?
Yes. Perry can't have it both ways: If "Perry hates the federal government so much," why is he "berating the feds for not spending more" on his fire and drought-ridden state? asks Alex Pareene at Salon. Yes, Texas needs the help — but only because Perry and the GOP legislature slashed funding for the Texas Forest Service and firefighters. "It is rational of him to ignore his rhetorical distaste for the federal government and demand that it help," but it still reeks of hypocrisy.
"Rick Perry's Texas cuts firefighting budget while wildfires burn"
Hold on. Perry isn't necessarily being inconsistent: Favoring small government and FEMA doesn't necessarily make you a hypocrite, says Erica Grieder in The Economist. "I think it's consistent for a 10th-amendment advocate" — that amendment essentially says that powers not specifically granted to the federal government are reserved for states — "to maintain that the federal government has an obligation to provide extra resources to states that are faced with unanticipated challenges." After all, "Texas didn't cause its drought" any more than New York caused Hurricane Irene.
"Texas on fire"
Hypocritical or not, Texas needs help: Perry can always fall back on the "unilateral disarmament argument," says North Carolina State University political scientist Andrew Taylor, as quoted in The Christian Science Monitor. Why should Texas "go without aid when no one else does?" But if I were Perry, I'd let other people fight over philosophy and "err on the side of just doing your job," however you think best. When your state is literally burning, "politics goes out the window."
"Texas wildfires: Is Rick Perry being hypocritical asking for federal aid?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- What the collapse of the Ming Dynasty can tell us about American decline
- Why is American internet so slow?
- Colorado’s new ‘drive high, get a DUI’ commercials are actually pretty clever
- 10 things you need to know today: March 10, 2014
- 7 ways to be the most interesting person in any room
- Why is it so expensive to build a bridge in America?
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Ukraine's fraught relationship with Russia: A brief history
- The GOP must try to win over African-Americans
- 22 TV shows to watch in 2014
Subscribe to the Week