Three Cheers for Death: The GOP's Morbid Enthusiasm for Rick Perry's 234 Executions

Posted by Nona Willis Aronowitz

"At the end of the day, I will always err on the side of saving lives," Rick Perry said during his debut GOP debate appearance last night while defending his decision to mandate the HPV vaccine. 

But apparently not when the lives in question are Death Row inmates'. When questioned by NBC's Brian Williams about whether he has "struggled to sleep at night" after authorizing 234 Texas executions, more than any other governor in modern history, Rick Perry was met with rapturous applause from the Simi Valley audience before he even opened his mouth.

Perry informed Williams that he sleeps just fine. "If you come into our state and you kill one of our children, if you kill a police officer ... you will be executed," Perry replied, to even more spirited applause from the crowd.

It's this kind of moment that lays bare the hypocrisy of a party that touts a "culture of life." Governors like Rick Perry instill radical abortion restrictions in the name of "innocent unborn babies." Meanwhile, his decisions to kill hundreds of adults, including at least one man who was probably as innocent as those fetuses, elicits cheers.

Even if you believe in the principles of the death penalty, there's something seriously scary and morbid about a reference to 234 dead people being the biggest applause line of the night. "It takes balls to execute an innocent man," a pro-Perry primary voter said back in 2010. Judging from last night, he's not the only one who thinks so.