Rick Perry: Secessionist Rhetoric, Revisionist Politics

The other night, Rick Perry told Sean Hannity — who treated Perry the way he treats Sarah Palin, which is to say, the way Sasha Grey, in her former professional capacity, used to treat an erect penis — that he is not, in fact, a secessionist:

HANNITY: Some people said, well, you used the term once “secession.” That’s not anything — is that something you believe?

PERRY: No, and I never used that term, at all.

HANNITY: Then why was it reported so heavily?

PERRY: I have no idea to be real honest with you, because it was never a really factual piece of reporting. It was shouted out by an individual at an event — at a Tea Party, actually — and I said “listen, America is a great country. We have no reason why we would ever dissolve this union.”

Oh, okay then. End of story, right? Well, not so fast.

As ThinkProgress notes, he didn’t technically use the word “secession” the one time in question, in March 2009. (Who knows, he may have used it at other times.) But he did say this:

You know, when we came into the nation in 1845, we were a republic, we were a stand-alone nation. And one of the deals was, we can leave anytime we want. So we’re kind of thinking about that again.

Now, it’s not clear just how serious he was being — TP has the clip and, at the end, you can hear laughter. But at a Tea Party event a month later, he said this:

Texas is a unique place. When we came into the Union in 1845, one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to do that.

We got a great Union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it, but if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what may come out of that.

FactCheck.org concludes that Parry never advocated secession: “Perry has carelessly commented that Texas has a unique right to secede from the union, having once been an independent republic. That’s a myth, historians say. But Perry never advocated secession.”

But that’s not really the point. No one is accusing Perry of being an ardent advocate for secession — obviously, he considers himself an American patriot. But he’s clearly wrong about Texas’s supposed right to secede, a case he has made on more than one occasion, and, as Steve Benen points out, “it’s entirely fair to say Perry dabbled in secessionist rhetoric, which in itself should be considered scandalous in the 21st century.”

Yes, but certainly not to the anti-government radicals so prevalent in the GOP, and clearly, before he became a national sensation, Perry was more than willing to engage in such dabbling. Now that he’s running for president, he’s just trying to whitewash himself, cleansing his past of embarrassing facts, but the record is the record. He can dabble in revisionism all he wants, but there’s no escaping it.

(Cross-posted from The Reaction.)