Mr. Secession

MR. SECESSION…. Over the weekend, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) had an op-ed explaining, “I have never advocated for secession and never will.” He added that he’s “simply sounding the alarm” about taxes, spending, budget deficits, etc.

That Perry even found it necessary to write the op-ed suggests his secession talk in April did some fairly significant harm to his credibility as a governor. The rhetoric probably gave him a boost with the right-wing base in advance of his gubernatorial primary fight with Kay Bailey Hutchison, but Perry seems to realize there’s no upside to being known as “the secession governor.” (For the record, Perry specifically said last month that while he saw “no reason” to “dissolve” the union, “if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come of that.”)

And while all of this is interesting, reader P.B. reminded me of a Perry-related anecdote in Robert Draper’s GQ piece on Donald Rumsfeld.

[Frances Fragos Townsend] had received a promotion — to assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism — yet was still unable to command Rumsfeld’s respect. In the midst of Hurricane Rita, Townsend learned that Texas governor Rick Perry had signaled his willingness to cede control of the National Guard to the federal government. She called Rumsfeld’s aide and was told, “The secretary and Mrs. Rumsfeld are at an event.”

Townsend knew that. The event was an ambassadors’ ball; she was supposed to be there but was instead dealing with the crisis. “Put me in to his detail,” she ordered.

A minute later, Townsend was on the phone with Rumsfeld’s security agent, who then spoke to the SecDef. “The secretary will talk to you after the event,” she was told.

Later in the evening, her phone rang. It was Chief of Staff Andy Card. “Rumsfeld just called,” said Card. “What is it you need?”

Livid, Townsend said, “I want to know if the president knows what a fucking asshole Don Rumsfeld is.”

Now, the obvious takeaway from this is that Rumsfeld was impossible to work with. But there’s also that other part — Perry was willing to cede control of the Texas National Guard to the federal government? This from a guy who complains bitterly, “We think it’s time to draw the line in the sand and tell Washington that no longer are we going to accept their oppressive hand in the state of Texas”?