Let's Mess with Texas

Let's Mess with Texas

By Richard Reeves - April 25, 2009

DALLAS -- Rush Limbaugh, the entertainer, announced the other day that he was moving out of New York City because New York Gov. David Paterson proposed higher state taxes on the rich. Paterson reacted by saying that if he had known Limbaugh would go, he would have proposed the tax a long time ago.

I had about the same reaction when Texas Gov. Rick Perry began babbling about the Lone Star State seceding from the United States. His rebel yell prompted a scene that may not be remembered as long as the Alamo, but should be. There were a few dozen of Perry's constituents waving "Secede Now" signs in one hand and American flags in the other.

Perry, who had his facts and history all wrong -- practically a given for Texas politicians -- was reacting to his own interpretation of President Obama's stimulus packages. What made him maddest was that the federal plan would have given unemployed Texans more money than the state gives them now. Then he got even madder when Democrats and other Republicans -- Perry is a Republican -- joined together to override his veto of that part of the Obama package of state aid.

"Texas is a unique place," he shouted. No argument there. "When we came into the Union in 1845, one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to do that."

Wrong! In that respect, Texas is the same as every other state. In fact, if you remember, Texas did secede, or tried to, once before. That was in 1861, The War Between the States and all that.

Perry is not alone. In a quick state poll published by The Dallas Morning News, almost one in five Texans said they would vote for secession if they were given the chance. One of them was that great Texan (and American) Tom DeLay, who brought so much honor to the state during his years in Congress. DeLay praised Perry for upholding Texas "sovereignty." The editor of D Magazine, Wick Allison, complained in an editorial that the national recession was far worse than Dallas' economic problems, and why should relatively prosperous Texans help Americans who did not help them during a local slump in housing prices from 1987 to 1994.

"Now the rest of the country has decided to drag us down with it," wrote Allison. "I find that more than a little irritating."

As for local Democrats, they are having some fun with such talk. Said state representative Jim Dunnam of Waco: "Talk of secession is an attack on our country. It can be nothing else. It is the ultimate anti-American statement."

Both Democrats and newspapers are saying that what Perry is really afraid of is not the United States but only one woman in it, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who has been talking about challenging him in the Republican primary for governor next year. He has been calling the lady a "Washington insider," ordinary stuff like that, but now maybe he intends to attack her as "an American." This is a state, after all, that booted its founder, Sam Houston, out of the governor's office because he suggested back in 1861 that it might not be such a good idea to take on the entire United States.

However serious Perry is, maybe the rest of us should take him at his word. Let Texas secede, keep its death sentences and become a buffer state between the drug wars of Mexico and the drug users of the United States. People like me with family in Texas will be bothered by getting visas to visit our own. But, presumably, anyone with half a brain will be heading north. We'll have a whole new illegal immigrant problem, Texans. Well, maybe we'll just have to build another border fence to keep them out.

Actually, what I regret about this messing with Texas is that it's just too late. If it had happened a few years ago, the rest of us, loyal Americans, would have been spared George W. Bush. He would have been president of the Republic of Texas. You can imagine the shape the former state would be in after its pre-emptive invasion of Mexico.


Copyright 2009, Universal Press Syndicate

Richard Reeves

Author Archive

Follow Real Clear Politics

Latest On Twitter