Monday, April 20, 2009

Former Kay press secretaries disagree re: Rick/secession talk...

Kay and Rick have both been in statewide elected office for nearly 20 years, so they both have some serious alumni lists behind them. This week two of Kay's former press secretaries weighed in on the whole trumped up secession brouhaha. They didn't exactly agree on what they have seen.

Matt Mackowiak, who only recently left Kay's team in DC, says (link)...
MACKOWIAK: "Just giving my personal view on this, Texans are independent April 21 is the commeration of the Battle of San Jacinto. We celebrate March 2nd, Texas Independence Day in Texas. So, we are an independent group. But I think that the secession talk, Perry is just really trying to be a little bit too clever on this. It plays to a very narrow slice of the primary electorate, which is his goal here, to really win that primary against Kay Bailey Hutchison. But I don't think it's a good long term strategy. Then Governor George W. Bush said, of the secession talk, that it's "illegal and unacceptable." And Rick Perry has accepted 97% of the stimulus funding. He's asked for FEMA funds for Hurricanes. All responsible things to ask for from the federal government. To then turn to the other side, to a small group of the electorate and say, we should consider seceeding or sort of winking at them, I think is a mistake."
Mackowiak is also on Twitter, and he was quick to retweet an anti Rick and anti toll road sign during one of the teaparties (link).

Matt is to commended for being loyal to his recent employer. Loyalty is a prized commodity in politics, and in the race between Rick and Kay, there will definitely be some tests of loyalty on both sides. Think about the consultants and operatives who have worked for both sides. Think about the ones who worked for Rick early on and now work for Kay, as well as the ones who once worked for Kay but now work for Rick.

I am sure Matt will be rewarded handsomely for his loyalty at some point down the line.

Another recent (2006) alumnus of Kay's, James Bernsen (who has recently started a very good website called Texas Republic News), has a much less inside the beltway bubble take on the situation (link)...

The media across America has seized upon Gov. Rick Perry’s recent comments that don’t completely rule out secession as an option for Texas, should the federal government’s powers grow too oppressive.

Democrats have hyped up the rhetoric to ludicrous levels, saying Perry was actually calling for secession now. A liberal South Texas democrat who never served in the U.S. military even suggested that immigrants are more patriotic than Perry – who served in the U.S. Air Force for five years.

James Aalan Bernsen

Underlying it all is a misunderstanding about what exactly Perry said. As Jason Embry in the Austin-American Statesman correctly pointed out, Perry wasn’t calling for secession, and even said specifically that it was not an option at this time.


If you’ve never even considered Texas being independent – not even while defending your state in an alcohol-filled argument with other Americans in a bar in Prague – then you quite simply aren’t a real Texan. Sure, 90 percent of it is an in-cheek jest, but behind the idea lies the general belief that Texans cannot be tamed like sheep, goats or New Jerseyites.

Read James' entire article (link). It is a nice read that runs counter to anything you will see almost anywhere, and it almost seems pro-Rick, even compared to blogs that are otherwise supportive of Rick.

1. Unlike Mackowiak's comments which make it seem like he actually believes Rick called for secession, Bernsen acknowledges that was not the case and notes how "ludicrous" the media coverage on this topic has been. I like Bernsen's integrity there, although as I said before there is something to be said for the loyalty that Mackowiak is showing to his recent employer.

2. Bernsen actually engages intellectually with the hypothetical concept of secession (rather than treating it as kooky fringe stuff), something many other columnists seem afraid to delve into for fear of being labeled a kook.

3. Bernsen knows his Texas history and isn't afraid to use it.

4. Bernsen wades into the legalese behind the notion that Texas can secede. Every other article in the mainstream media just interviews a bunch of liberal pinhead professors who dismiss the entire topic, while Bernsen actually provides some counterarguments. It is a perfectly legitimate bit of "bar talk" than millions of Texans have engaged in at some point in their lives... it's NOT a real Che Guevara/Weather Underground/Tim McVeigh bit of subversion.

Bernsen also wrote an op-ed for the Quorum Report this week stating (link)...

But Kay, like Dewhurst, wasn’t there, and Perry was, in casual clothes and a ball cap, looking like he’d be just as comfortable drinking a Shiner Bock at Gruene Hall as he would be signing legislation. What Perry did was recognize the mood and latch onto it. Among populist Conservatives – as opposed to the country club crowd – this is red meat. Much as aging hippies define themselves by proudly saying that they were at Woodstock, Perry’s now got a certifiable right-wing tattoo on his bicep for all the conservative world to see.

None of this guarantees him victory, of course, and there’s still a long way to go. I’ve seen Hutchison campaign, and nobody outworks her once she gets going. But she’s not in campaign gear now and Perry is. It may be a case of the tortoise and the hare, but unless Perry falls asleep or fumbles the legislative session, he’s building powerful momentum among the conservative base that will decide the GOP primary.

Hutchison should take notice.

As someone who has met both Rick and Kay in person over the years and followed this race now very closely for a few months, I can't help but think that Rick is just a lot more plugged into the GOP base than Kay is. Kay's strategy of running a general election style campaign during the primary just seems very Rudy Giuliani circa 2007 to me.

I understand there are millions of new Texans who have moved here since Rick was first elected. They may have brought their Ohio or California or Chihuahua values with them, but Rick has really touched a nerve in a good way with a lot of people not unlike myself who have deep roots in Texas and a lot of state pride.

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Hey now, campaign characters. Be nice. I know a lot of you on both sides, so I don't want any overly foul language, personal attacks on anyone other than the candidates themselves, or other party fouls. I will moderate the heck out of you if you start breaking the bounds of civility.