Today I was at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure with some fellow nursing students. While we were getting ready to start walking, one of them got my attention and motioned behind her, "Is that...?" And there was Governor Rick Perry, spitting distance away, though of course I didn't. He looked older than I remembered.
For those outside the state, or even Texans who haven't tumbled to it, being Governor of Texas is a cakewalk. Contrary to widely-held beliefs, it confers little to no leadership experience. There aren't many duties per se to execute as part of the office. If you choose to ignore death penalty clemency requests (or mock the condemned while speaking to a journalist), than you pretty much just show up to public appearances and commence gladhanding. Of course, the Governor can also choose to veto massive amounts of legislation passed by his own Party without telling anyone what he was going to do, but that's the exception rather than the rule.
So, being Governor doesn't usually cause the amount of stress that ages a person like being President does.
Probable reasons Gov. Perry has aged considerably since taking office:
1. He badly flubbed school financing in Texas with a proposal to legalize gambling, an idea firmly rejected by the majority his own (Republican) Party.
2. He will be facing stiff opposition in the Republican primary from, in all likelihood, U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn.
3. The swirl of rumors in February that he's gay, was having an affair with the Secretary of State, and that his wife had filed for divorce - none of which backed up anyone going on the record, merely innuendo from unnamed sources.
In that moment I almost felt sorry for him, almost.