A few months ago, with Texas aflame from more than 8,000 wildfires brought on by extreme drought, a man who hopes to be the next president took pen in hand and went to work:
“Now, therefore, I, Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, under the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Statutes of the State of Texas, do hereby proclaim the three-day period from Friday, April 22, 2011, to Sunday, April 24, 2011, as Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas.”
Then the governor prayed, publicly and often. Alas, a rainless spring was followed by a rainless summer. July was the hottest month in recorded Texas history. Day after pitiless day, from Amarillo to Laredo, from Toadsuck to Twitty, folks were greeted by a hot, white bowl overhead, triple-digit temperatures, and a slow death on the land.
In the four months since Perry’s request for divine intervention, his state has taken a dramatic turn for the worse. Nearly all of Texas is now in “extreme or exceptional” drought, as classified by federal meteorologists, the worst in Texas history.
Lakes have disappeared. Creeks are phantoms, the caked bottoms littered with rotting, dead fish. Farmers cannot coax a kernel of grain from ground that looks like the skin of an aging elephant.
Is this Rick Perry’s fault, a slap to a man who doesn’t believe that humans can alter the earth’s climate — God messin’ with Texas? No, of course not. God is too busy with the upcoming Cowboys football season and solving the problems that Tony Romo has reading a blitz.
But Perry’s tendency to use prayer as public policy demonstrates, in the midst of a truly painful, wide-ranging and potentially catastrophic crisis in the nation’s second most-populous state, how he would govern if he became president.