From The Dallas Morning News:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry fired up an anti-tax “tea party” Wednesday with his stance against the federal government and for states’ rights as some in his U.S. flag-waving audience shouted, “Secede!”
An animated Perry told the crowd at Austin City Hall — one of three tea parties he was attending across the state — that officials in Washington have abandoned the country’s founding principles of limited government. He said the federal government is strangling Americans with taxation, spending and debt.
Perry repeated his running theme that Texas’ economy is in relatively good shape compared with other states and with the “federal budget mess.” Many in the crowd held signs deriding President Barack Obama and the $786 billion federal economic stimulus package.
Perry called his supporters patriots. Later, answering news reporters’ questions, Perry suggested Texans might at some point get so fed up they would want to secede from the union, though he said he sees no reason why Texas should do that.
He said when Texas entered the union in 1845 it was with the understanding it could pull out. However, according to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Texas negotiated the power to divide into four additional states at some point if it wanted to but not the right to secede.
Perry is running for re-election against U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a fellow Republican. His anti-Washington remarks have become more strident the past few weeks as that 2010 race gets going and since Perry rejected $550 million in federal economic stimulus money slated to help Texas’ unemployment trust fund.
In an appearance at the Texas Capitol last week, Perry joined state lawmakers in pushing a resolution that supports states’ rights protected in the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. He said the federal government has become oppressive in its size and interference with states.
Since then, Perry has been featured on the online Drudge Report, and other conservative commentators and citizens have latched on to his words.
After praising veterans in the cheering crowd Wednesday, he said: “I’m just not real sure you’re a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we’re with you.”
Perry said he believes he could be at the center of a national movement that is coordinated and focused in its opposition to the actions of the federal government.
For her part, Hutchison issued a newspaper opinion piece Wednesday criticizing the Democratic-led Congress for spending on the stimulus bill and the $1 trillion appropriations bill.
The crowd at the Austin tea party appeared to be decidedly anti-Democrat. Many of the speakers were Republicans and Libertarians.
The screaming red headline at Drudge this morning: “Governor says Texas can leave the union if it wants.” The backstory here is that Texas Governor Rick Perry recently endorsed a state House of Representatives resolution declaring that “all compulsory federal legislation that directs states to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties or sanctions or that requires states to pass legislation or lose federal funding be prohibited or repealed.” As Politico’s Andy Barr notes, that’s a direct reaction to the near-$800 billion stimulus package, a portion of which–$550 million for unemployment assistance–Perry rejected because of future obligations it would have posed for the state.
Perry, who is running for reelection in 2010 and dreaming of bigger things for 2012, was careful to half-disavow exactly the sentiments he was encouraging: “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that.” It isn’t hard to discern his point, which is that there’s anti-federal and anti-Obama insurrection in the air and that’s a good thing.
And so, three years and six months before the next presidential election, we have not one but two apparent White House aspirants who have professed sympathy for secessionist impulses. Sarah Palin, you’ll remember, has a much longer-standing secessionist pedigree than Texas’s Johnny-Reb-come-lately governor; her husband Todd was a member of the Alaska Independence Party until it became a potential blight on her political career. And though Sarah was not, she was great friends with them.
Apparently post-partisanship is not all it’s made out to be. I don’t think for a moment Perry, or probably even the Jesus-drunk Palin, is serious about wanting a breakup of the United States. What would be left to run for? What they really want is a mob to propel them to–the heights of federal power. But here it really is the thought that counts: Rick Perry is not likely to fire on Fort Hood anytime soon, but the energies he and his fellow travelers are helping to coalesce will more likely than not overrun them in time.
How much you wanna bet that those damned liberals will be saying that Perry doesn’t know squat about the law and secession?
While a poll broke this morning suggesting Texans favor staying in the United States by more than 3-to-1, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said secession can’t legally happen.
Perry stuck Thursday with his initial indication that Texas could quit the union. He’d said Wednesday that “if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that?”
Cornyn, the state’s former attorney general and a past member of the Texas Supreme Court, said in response to a question during a stop at the Texas Capitol that secession isn’t legally possible.
A new poll summarized [...] by Rasmussen Reports found 75 percent of Texas voters saying they’d prefer to stay in the United States, 18 percent endorsing secession and 7 percent being unsure.
The poll gave a glimpse of Perry’s political challenge as he gears up to seek a third full term next year against U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas. Sixty-seven percent of the polled voters viewed Hutchison favorably compared to 55 percent of voters viewing Perry favorably. And among Republicans, Hutchison earned positive reviews from 83 percent of the polled voters, Perry from 78 percent.
Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday stuck by his earlier statement that Texas can secede from the United States — a far-reaching, legally questionable prospect that nevertheless drew Perry a fresh favorable mention by Rush Limbaugh, one of the nation’s leading conservative voices.
On Thursday, Perry called potential secession a “side issue of Texas history. … We are very proud of our Texas history; people discuss and debate the issues of can we break ourselves into five states, can we secede, a lot of interesting things that I’m sure Oklahoma and Pennsylvania would love to be able to say about their states, but the fact is, they can’t because they’re not Texas.”
A Perry spokeswoman said Perry believes Texas could secede if it wanted.
Sanford Levinson, a professor at the School of Law at the University of Texas at Austin, said that between the Texas Constitution, the U.S. Constitution and the 1845 Joint Resolution Annexing Texas to the United States, there is no explicit right for the state to return to its days as a republic.
“We actually fought a war over this issue, and there is no possibility whatsoever that the United States or any court would recognize a ‘right’ to secede,” Levinson said in an e-mail.
Levinson noted that the 1845 resolution allows for Texas to break itself into five states but doesn’t specify whether that would require congressional approval — and forming new states still wouldn’t constitute secession.
Limbaugh said on his program Thursday that Perry’s speculation on the possibility of secession might awaken conservatives to actions by the federal government that he described as abusing citizens.
“This is not insignificant when the governor of Texas talks about ‘we could secede,’ ” Limbaugh said, according to audio of his comments and a transcript posted online by Media Matters for America, a liberal group that says it corrects conservative misinformation in the media.
Also Thursday, Perry fielded a warm response from more than 800 members of the Texas Federation of Republican Women lunching at the Austin Convention Center.
Referring to three anti-tax “tea parties” he attended Wednesday, Perry said he felt invigorated and proud of Texans.
“We’re fed up with what’s coming out of Washington,” he said.
He also said that one reason Democrats succeeded nationally last year is that “a lot of us who have worn the jersey of the Republican team have been playing like Democrats”— almost certainly a stab at Hutchison, a senator since 1993.
Perry also saluted state Rep. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, the author of a nonbinding resolution to remind Congress of the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
“I’m talking about states’ rights,” Perry said.
The governor drew little attention last week when he endorsed Creighton’s resolution. But by Tuesday, the online Drudge Report had posted a Perry news release on the proposal. Talk show hosts including conservatives Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage and Laura Ingraham shortly picked up the story.
Hutchison fired an arrow in Perry’s direction at the lunch, reminding the red-jacketed activists that Republicans have lost ground in the Texas House as well as local offices in what had been GOP-leaning Harris, Bexar and Dallas counties.
“We have got to regear,” Hutchison said.
Referring to grass-roots Republican women, Hutchison said: “We built the Republican Party, and we are going to have to save it.”