I have a sneaking suspicion that Rick Perry, for all his
weaknesses, might make a pretty good president for California.

That sounds
nuts, given the plain fact that Perry’s values and swagger don’t fit the
California mainstream. And of course, Perry has made California and its economy
a rhetorical punching bag – and a target for well-publicized raids on our

But it’s
possible to imagine a Perry presidency (don’t stop there, keep reading) as
being good for California in a Nixon-goes-to-China way.

There’s a
pretty big contradiction in Perry’s record, and rhetoric, that could serve
California particularly well if the Texas governor were to stick to the
contradiction in the White House.

On the one
hand, Perry has made a very big deal of his support for federalism and state’s
rights. Perry has said that if you don’t like medical marijuana and liberal
social policies, don’t move to California. A president with that kind of
attitude might be willing to free California to be California, and try
innovative approaches not only to social policy (but to its budget problems)
that have been hamstrung in the past by heavy hand of Washington.

On the
other hand, Gov. Perry (for all his criticism of the federal government) has
been aggressive about grabbing and using federal dollars to help his own
state’s finances. It’s possible that he might be open to more aid for states
such as California – or at least more generous than the Obama administration,
which turned down California’s requests for loan guarantees and other special

If Obama
had done more for California, he would have faced a backlash for tending to his
base. But Perry’s persona and record might make it possible for him to go to
California, in a Nixon-to-China way, and try things that would help the state.
After all, America can’t recover if its biggest state is a budget basket case,
with 12 percent unemployment.