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If I Only Had a Heart

October 3, 2011

"When a man's an empty kettle, he should be on his mettle, and yet I'm torn apart;
just because I'm presumin', that I could be kinda human, if I only had a heart."
Tin Man, from The Wizard of Oz

Politically speaking, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has just loaded his double-barrel, 12-gauge shotgun, aimed it squarely at the American people and shot himself right in the foot. Of all the dumb things Perry could have said during last week's Republican debate, his statement regarding in-state tuition for the children of illegal aliens was as tone deaf as anything I have heard come out of the mouth of President Barack Obama.

"If you say that we should not educate children who come into our state for no other reason than that they've been brought there through no fault of their own," Perry said, "I don't think you have a heart. We need to be educating these children, because they will become a drag on our society."

I hate to break it to the good governor, but they have been a drag on our society since the day their parents decided to break our laws and bring them, and themselves, across our border. I will even go a step further and opine that former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum got it wrong when he said to Perry during the debate, "No one is saying that they (illegals) can't attend our colleges and universities, but we don't need to subsidize them."

I, for one, am saying exactly that: illegals should not be allowed to attend our schools, be they secondary or post-secondary. Those institutions should be there to educate American children first, followed by those who have complied with our laws and entered our country legally. If we can agree that illegals should be denied jobs and welfare benefits, why should it be such an outrageous proposition to say that they should be denied a public education?

And simply because a pregnant woman makes it across our border before delivering her child, that child should not automatically be an American citizen, as is now the case.

Remember the old saying, "Don't kill the goose that laid the golden egg"? Well, America's largesse as a nation is the golden egg and millions of illegal aliens breaking into our country are killing, cooking and eating the goose.

Perry's debate performances so far have been lackluster at best and embarrassing at worst, with the quality of his answers deteriorating with each showing. While he has been gutsy and consistent concerning Social Security being a Ponzi scheme, he has flip-flopped on the matter of states' rights versus federal power. An example is the issue of same sex marriage. Perry first said that it was a matter for the states to decide; later, he began advocating for a Constitutional Amendment in support of traditional marriage between a man and a woman.

He has doubled down on his insistence that his forced HPV inoculation of 12-year-old girls was the right policy simply implemented in the wrong way. Perhaps worst of all, Perry's reply to Michele Bachmann's accusation of corruption was weak: "I raised $30 million in campaign funds (for governor), so if you are implying that I can be bought for five thousand, then I'm offended." When I heard that statement, I remember thinking, So, then, what is your price?

While it is still early in this election season, and much can happen between now and the first caucuses and primaries, Perry may well have cost himself the GOP presidential nomination with his one inane comment about illegal immigration. It is never politically smart to impugn the motives of one's own supporters by telling them that if they disagree with you, they have no heart.

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Copyright ©2011 Doug Patton

Doug Patton describes himself as a recovering political speechwriter who agrees with himself more often than not. His weekly columns are syndicated by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Readers are encouraged to email him at dpatton@cagle.comand/or to follow him on Twitter at @Doug_Patton.