Alec MacGillis dives deep into the Rick Perry legislative record and finds little evidence of the principled opposition to industrial policy that conservative politicians discovered two weeks ago when Solyndra went bankrupt. Indeed, Perry’s specific policy interventions were heavily oriented around what amount to slush funds.
This gets somewhat tied into the contrast between Perry’s reputation in Texas as basically a conventional business conservative and the impression given by his book that he’s a wild-eyed ideologue. For my part, I think this circle can be easily squared by noting that Texas is an unusual state. For one thing, it’s big. It has way more people than Portugal or Switzerland or the Netherlands or Sweden or other perfectly respectable developed countries. And unlike, say, New York or Pennsylvania, it doesn’t include metropolitan areas that cross state borders. It has a lot of natural resources, including oil and empty space and a political culture that’s hostile to redistribution of income to poor people. Under the circumstances, an insane ideological project to radically decentralize the United States of America is a pragmatic business conservative agenda. Chris Christie’s not going to sit in Trenton and say, “I wish these other states would just leave us alone!” Lots of his constituents work in those other states. Kansas is pretty clearly not going to work as a freestanding enterprise. Texas is different.