"Texas is a unique place. When we came into the Union ... one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to do that. ... We've got a great Union. There's no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, who knows what might come out of that?" — Governor Rick Perry
I enjoy telling my Texas friends that if it weren't for a few brave Tennesseans, they'd all be speaking Spanish. But to hear Texas governor Rick Perry talk these days, they'll have to choose a national language when Texas re-secedes from the Union. Then they can build an electric border fence as high as they want and reassign the beleaguered border patrol to hold the line against Oklahoma.
What manner of insane, combustive prattle is this from a public servant? It has reached a point where it may be necessary to require every seeker of public office to take a remedial class in American history, just to keep them from self-humiliation.
It's not that Texans alone continue to elect absolute dumbasses for governor. After all, Tennessee elected the crook Ray Blanton, not to mention Rod Blagojevich in Illinois and Eliot Spitzer in New York — first-rate political jackalopes all. But not even Huey Long suggested that Louisiana should declare its independence from the Union.
Texas has also produced master politicians such as Sam Rayburn, LBJ, Ann Richards, and the distinguished congresswoman Barbara Jordan, who had the intellectual capacity to become the first woman — and black — president. The good people of Texas have been duped like everyone else by the malignant political theories of Karl Rove. The Rove philosophy is not to be overly concerned with a political client's particular opinions on the issues as long as they meet three criteria: They must be pro-business, which also means anti-tax and anti-regulation, be culturally conservative and demonstrably Christian, and have good hair. This methodology emerged with Ronald Reagan, in whom the GOP found a man with one great "gut" principle and the rugged good looks that Americans like in their movie stars and father figures.
The late, great Texas pundit Molly Ivins described Rove's first star-crossed meeting with Dubya when he was assigned to pick up the younger Bush at the D.C. train station. Rove was taken aback by the Texas Air National Guard flight jacket, the steely, blue eyes, and the cowboy hat on the man from Harvard Business School and thought, I can make him president.
After Rove stacked the Texas statehouse and Supreme Court with his clients, he and Dubya headed to Washington, prepared to do the same to the country. Rove's hand-picked successor to Bush, Rick Perry, moved into the governorship. Former senator Kay Bailey Hutchison was a local TV anchorwoman with good hair before becoming a Rove client. In the upcoming gubernatorial election between Perry and Hutchison, how can Rove lose? Rove's clients still occupy positions and seats in overwhelming numbers in every area of Texas government, including Senator John Cornyn III, whose hair is not as great as his right-wing politics.
Former and future Texas roach-killer Tom DeLay came to Perry's defense regarding his secessionist remarks by saying, "This is a governor standing up for the sovereignty of his state." DeLay claimed Perry was caught in the tumultuous hysteria of San Antonio's recent "tea party." Perry was probably attempting to appeal to the malcontents who, without proper stoking, might be inclined to vote for the slightly more moderate Hutchison. At least as a former senator, Hutchison must know that seceding from the Union is unconstitutional. Perry probably knows as well, only he doesn't give a damn when it comes to fanatical, redneck populism. Either way, Texas' next governor will be a Rovian creation. So what if one seems like a rabid disciple of John C. Calhoun and the other is like, well, a TV anchorwoman? With an unprincipled states'-rights fanatic as governor, Dubya and Karen Hughes planning the Bush Policy Institute in Dallas, "The Hammer" DeLay plotting a comeback, and the Ron Paul revolution hanging on, I say, "Let Texas go." Fence it, put a moat around it, build a great wall — just stop sending Rove's politicians to Washington, and please grant passports to my cousins so they can visit me in free Tennessee.
Randy Haspel writes the blog "Born Again Hippies," where a version of this column first appeared.