The PJ Tatler

The guy that NPR executives and the New York Times and your average Subaru-driving Whole Foods shopper were afraid George W. Bush was? Rick Perry is that guy.

Yup. It’s a source of his strength in Texas, and weakness on the coasts. But he is also a canny federalist who, like practically every Republican leader since Lincoln, is derided and dismissed by opponents, even after he hands them their political heads.

Don’t move to California is a major theme of Texas’s economic-development program, and in fact Californians are moving to Texas at a pretty good clip, as economist Arthur Laffer documented in his report “Rich States, Poor States” (see “Going Alamo,” National Review, July 20, 2009). Perry is content for Californians to let their freak flags fly, though he confesses that he recoils from some of the implications of his hard-line constitutionalism: The thought of flag-burning, for instance, makes Rick Perry one angry Eagle Scout. But his laissez-faire attitude is surprisingly broad, something he has in common with another distinguished governor, Sarah Palin, whose libertarian streak on questions like marijuana use is an underappreciated component of her political character. “Don’t make me accept it as normal,” Perry says, “and do not make me pay for it. But that’s classic Tenth Amendment, and I’ll fight to the death for California’s right to decide for themselves how they want to live.” And then he adds with an earnest, butter-wouldn’t-melt smile: “You want high taxes and an onerous regulatory climate, that’s your choice.” As he says this, he swivels around excitedly in his desk chair, the cuffs of his trousers hiking up to reveal a pair of cowboy boots emblazoned “Liberty” and “Freedom.”

Read the rest. The Republican bench is surprisingly deep and accomplished. Nobody is perfect, but Gov. Perry is one of a handful of Republican governors who seem to get it, and have real track records to back it up. Flyover country Govs. Perry, Pawlenty, Palin, Jindal, and Daniels have all shown to one degree or another that having the right instincts counts more than saying and doing the things that the coastal media laud (I include Daniels for his fiscal success; his “truce” on social issues is unworkable given the fact that the left uses fiscal policy to push their social agenda). Govs. Walker, Haley and Kasich are working to compile strong records of their own.

The same can’t be said of the other side, where Democrat or liberal rule is ruining state governments everywhere. The only accomplished Democrats, like former TN Gov. Phil Bredesen, tend to be outcasts within their own party. And they are accomplished entirely to the extent that they reject liberal policies, and thereby succceeded to some extent.

(Don’t miss this PJM Flashback: “Shootin’ with the Governor (Perry)”)