November 26, 2011


For Perry, Life Was Broadened and Narrowed by the Military (SHERYL GAY STOLBERG, 11/25/11, NY Times)

Today Mr. Perry, the Texas governor, is running for president in a crowded Republican field as one of just two candidates with military experience. (The other is Ron Paul.) As an Air Force pilot, he flew C-130 cargo planes out of Dyess Air Force Base outside Abilene, about an hour south of the tiny town of Paint Creek, where he grew up.

On the campaign trail, Mr. Perry has focused on domestic affairs, pitching himself as the man who can "overhaul Washington." His Air Force days give a hint of how he might handle another aspect of the presidency, national security. In recent debates, he has emerged as a muscular interventionist, a stance that can be traced, in part, to his military service.

It was an experience that both expanded and narrowed him, taking him to exotic locales while cementing his Texas roots and the traditional, conservative values that have been so central to his political identity. On Air Force missions overseas, he told students at Liberty University this fall, he had his first encounters with "oppressed people" -- an experience that sharpened his idea of the United States as a beacon of democracy and helped convince him that Americans "cannot isolate ourselves within our borders."

Today, the college student who backed the Vietnam War is, at 61, the hawkish presidential candidate. Mr. Perry has called President Obama "irresponsible" for ending the Iraq war, urged the overthrow of the Iranian government -- he would not rule out a military strike -- and suggested he would deploy troops to Mexico to "kill these drug cartels" there.

He has also pledged to reinstate "don't ask, don't tell," the military policy that barred openly gay soldiers.

Just one of the ways he can contrast himself with Newt Gingrich.

Posted by at November 26, 2011 6:21 AM

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