When it became clear that Rick Perry would throw his hat in the ring for the GOP presidential nomination, James Moore, former longtime member of the Texas press corps and NY Times bestselling author (Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential), spent three days writing a 93-page book proposal for Adios Mofo: Why Rick Perry Will Make America Miss George W. Bush.
With Perry charging out of the gate as the Republican front-runner, several publishing companies in New York expressed great interest in Adios Mofo. Moore, with co-author Stanford, sold the book to Henry Holt, an imprint of Metropolitan, then set to work writing the dark tale of Rick Perry's tenure as governor of the state of Texas.
But when Perry's utter inability to debate helped to send his poll numbers crashing to 6% just as Moore and Stanford turned in the manuscript, Holt editors declared that the book needed "too much editing" to make a print deadline and canceled the book, declining to make an additional significant payment to the authors.
Now, 10 or so years ago, that would have been that, and Adios Mofo would have been dead in the water. But Moore, who published his sci-fi novel In the Time of Man as an e-book earlier this year, decided with Stanford to self-publish Adios Mofo on Amazon Kindle. The engaging, imminently readable book was released on Friday and has since moved several times into the Top 10 political titles on Amazon, providing another heartening example of the way e-books and the Internet are helping authors to regain agency over their work.
And the fact that Perry now has a snowflake's chance of securing the nomination doesn't detract from the education and entertainment provided by Moore and Stanford, who have been around Texas politics long enough to have witnessed Perry's rise to political stardom from his beginnings as a Democratic representative advocating for small farmers to his current run for the GOP presidential nomination.
Moore and Stanford write the story of Perry's political life in an engaging, brassy way, ladling out generous servings of investigative journalism liberally seasoned with biting humor and chortle-inducing details such as the fact that Perry showed up for his second legislative session in the Texas House wearing dental braces, a sure sign that he had higher political aspirations. But the book also carefully chronicles Perry's relentless efforts to deregulate everything in Texas from roads, to Health and Human Services, to state university tuition, all of which provide a boon to big business and hard hits to poor and middle class families.
And despite making it clear that Perry often speaks and writes like a person on a "10th grade reading level," the Perry depicted in Adios Mofo is far from a buffoon. He's something scarier: a man relentlessly and unquestioningly dedicated to financial gains for big business without a care or second thought for the poor and disenfranchised who have lost much during his time as governor, from the possibility of receiving an affordable college education in Texas to healthcare for children. The Perry of Adios Mofo is a man politically savvy enough to understand that having a Christian prayer rally in a football stadium would be like holding up a giant sign stating "Rick Perry 2012 -- Not a Mormon," and just the thing to launch him to early front-runner status for the Republican presidential nomination.
Adios Mofo demonstrates Perry's ability to comprehend political intricacies, and shows how such understandings have hurt his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, especially when it comes to immigration. Perry's "innate understanding of the complexities of immigration in Texas" have both "helped him retain his job as governor of the state for more than a decade" and caused him problems with right wing Republicans unwilling to acknowledge the realities of the issue.
"Getting it right in Texas, might be viewed as getting it wrong for America," Moore and Stanford write as they recount how Perry was savagely attacked by other Republican contenders for providing in-state college tuition rates for the children of illegal immigrants who have lived in Texas for at least three years, graduated from high school, and are pursuing citizenship. Perry was politically punished for this one instance of thoughtful, progressive policy creation. But Moore and Stanford also make clear that Perry's understanding of immigration issues remains mainly rooted in his desire to placate big donors whose businesses depend on cheap labor that comes "largely, from illegal immigration."
Adios Mofo also gives a detailed account of the sort of shady back room Republican dealings that would chill even readers educated about such goings on, such as when Perry's then chief of staff, the once-and-future Phillip Morris Lobbyist Mike Toomey ensured that a portion of the $10 million budget deficit wasn't filled with a tax on cigarettes, but instead by cutting health care for poor children; or how Rick Perry supported his biggest donor, homebuilder Bob "No Relation" Perry, by creating a state agency called the Texas Residential Construction Commission (TRCC) and installed No Relation as part of a commission in charge of "implementing the new law."
Despite Henry Holt Publishing's skittishness, Adios Mofo hasn't been made irrelevant just because Rick Perry has lost his frontrunner status. To the contrary, this wickedly witty book shows Perry within the context of Republican goals and ideals and functions as a reminder that when Republicans win, it's Americans who lose out on quality public school education, affordable college tuition, health care and other necessities.
Follow Mary Pauline Lowry on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MaryPLowry