It’s one thing to get one’s usual allies to endorse a candidacy for higher office.  It’s quite another to get one’s former opponent to give an endorsement.  Kinky Friedman, who once ran against Rick Perry for governor and lost, writes a remarkable — and remarkably enjoyable — endorsement of Perry, both as a politician and a man:

I have been quoted as saying that when I die, I am to be cremated, and the ashes are to be thrown in Rick Perry’s hair. Yet, simply put, Rick Perry and I are incapable of resisting each other’s charm. He is not only a good sport, he is a good, kindhearted man, and he once sat in on drums with ZZ Top. A guy like that can’t be all bad. When I ran for governor of Texas as an independent in 2006, the Crips and the Bloods ganged up on me. When I lost, I drove off in a 1937 Snit, refusing to concede to Perry. Three days later Rick called to give me a gracious little pep talk, effectively talking me down from jumping off the bridge of my nose. Very few others were calling at that time, by the way. Such is the nature of winning and losing and politicians and life. You might call what Rick did an act of random kindness. Yet in my mind it made him more than a politician, more than a musician; it made him a mensch.

These days, of course, I would support Charlie Sheen over Obama. Obama has done for the economy what pantyhose did for foreplay. Obama has been perpetually behind the curve. If the issue of the day is jobs and the economy, Rick Perry is certainly the nuts-and-bolts kind of guy you want in there. …

More to the point, could Rick Perry fix the economy? Hell, yes! Texas is exhibit A; Rick’s fingerprints are all over it. He’s been governor since Christ was a cowboy. The Lone Star State is booming. The last time I checked, Texas is kicking in a hell of a lot of the U.S. GDP. Unemployment is lower than the vast majority of the other states. Hell, we could probably even find a job for Paul Begala.

Friedman gives a “Hell, yes!” to his own question of whether he supports Perry’s candidacy for President, and even offers a Morning in America reason as his conclusion:

A still, small voice within keeps telling me that Rick Perry’s best day may yet be ahead of him, and so too, hopefully, will be America’s.

If Perry wants to beat Romney and then Obama in this election, that will be the kind of campaign he’ll need to run.  Obama will go heavily on the attack, as even this White House can’t sell 9% unemployment and a 1.3% growth rate as a positive more than two years after the recession ended.  Perry will have to, er, parry those attacks and certainly has plenty of room to criticize Obama’s handling of the office and the economy.  But voters respond to optimism more than pessimism.  If Perry can articulate an agenda of freedom and economic liberty to go along with his record in Texas, he may well be unbeatable.

It doesn’t hurt to get a good look at the person behind the candidate, either, which is where Friedman’s column really helps Perry.  Americans want politicians who hearken back to the days when opponents could disagree and debate hard over the issues but didn’t make those divisions personal.  With Democrats accusing Tea Party activists of being the “enemy” and promising to send them to Hell, this personal recollection of Perry’s professionalism and personal compassion will resonate, especially with independents who are most frustrated with personal partisan wars.  Obama talked a lot about changing the tone in Washington; Perry has actually done it on a personal level — and that’s not the only area where Obama turned out to be all talk.

Even if you’re not a fan of Perry or of Friedman, be sure to read the entire essay.  You won’t find a more entertaining endorsement this season.