If you think of Perry in this light then many of the apparent contradictions in his record begin to fit together. And it makes a difference that he’s the Governor of Texas, not any other state. Perhaps only the Governor of Alaska and the Mayor of New York City occupy offices that are so self-contained. That is, they are the places that have an identity – and a swagger – that sets them apart from the rest of the United States. Each, in their very different ways, could plausibly be thought of as an independent state (or state of mind) in ways that, say, Kansas or Tennessee do not quite reach.
So when Perry jokes about seceding from the Union, he’s making a statement about Texas just as much as he is complaining about Washington. Similarly, when he talks about repealing the 17th Amendment (ie, the direct election of Senators) he’s talking about something that a) won’t happen but b) if it did would tie the Senate still closer to the interests of the 50 states. That is, it would reassert the primacy of a long-lost federalism that, implicitly but also substantively, makes the states Top Dogs and restricts Washington to certain enumerated powers. Again, this is less a practical policy and more an expression of state-based, Texas-sized sentiment.
Remember too that Texas has to all intents and purposes become a one-party state and the Governor’s job is to be head of the Texas Party. Think of him – if you can wrap your mind around the comparison – as a Texan kind of Eamon de Valera. If that’s too strange for you then consider Perry as a Texas Gaullist.