And so Perry’s Paradox: Rick Perry is a success because he nominally presides over an American tiger state, a genuine free-market economy that doesn’t much need—or want—his tender loving care. If the job before us is unwinding an unimaginably vast, smothering national government, is Lone Star Gov. Rick Perry the man for that job?

This much is obvious: Texas, not California, better be the American future. Somewhere inside of him, Rick Perry of Texas understands this distinction. He should stick to explaining what he knows. Let voters figure out if he can explain it to Washington.