The higher the monkey climbs, the more you see of its ugly side.
So here comes Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, trying to climb the national political ladder all the way to the presidency. He's really two candidates in one suit. On the surface, Perry is vying to be the furthest out of the tea party Republicans' far-out right-wingers — sort of Michele Bachmann with better hair. He wants to scuttle Social Security and Medicaid. Also, he says the federal government should not be "regulating the environment, protecting civil rights... [or even] creating national minimum wage laws."
At his core, though, Perry governs as an exuberant plutocrat, happily doling out public dollars and favors to the corporate rich who've invested in his political career.
He also pleases the privileged, by slashing government spending on everything from public schools to health care. Among the 204 wealthy supporters who've put between $100,000 and $2 million into his governorship are AT&T, Bank of America, ExxonMobil, the Koch brothers, T. Boone Pickens, Harold Simmons, Time Warner, Valero Energy, and Wal-Mart.
So pleased are such elites by the return they've received on their Perry Portfolio, that they will form, as the New York Times put it, "a vast network ... eager to bankroll his presidential ambitions."
If this sounds vaguely familiar, think back only a decade to another corporate-funded Texas buckaroo in the White House.
Yes, George W. Bush.
Perry is Bush, only not as smart or ethical. And Bush at least professed to be a "compassionate conservative."
None of that sissy liberal stuff for Rick — he actually brags that, hey, we stick to it to the middle class and the poor, so the rich can get richer.
So, when Perry promises he'll do for America what he's done for Texas, pay attention — it's no idle threat.
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.