I won't matter that Rick Perry's record in Texas isn't all he's claiming it to be, or so I argue in a new column up at TNR.
Alas, as soon as it was posted comes new polling showing that Perry runs worse in Texas against Barack Obama than do other GOP candidates, leading to a smart takedown of my column by Ed Kilgore.
Hmm....I guess what I'd say in response is a couple of things. One is that I strongly suspect that any lack of enthusiasm Texas conservatives have for Perry would certainly disappear in a general election contest, and might well fade even during a nomination fight. I could also try a (perhaps weaselly?) argument that I only said that his accomplishments or lack thereof in state government wouldn't matter: I never said that whether or not Texans like him doesn't matter!
At any rate, Kilgore is correct that Perry's weakness at home, whether it would matter at all in elections there, could certainly hurt him early on with the people who he would have to convince early on that he's a strong candidate. And it's possible, although not entirely certain, that his failure to make Texans love him could be an indication that people in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina won't love him, either. So the poor polling, if it stands up, is probably a real negative for Perry.
I do think, however, that Perry's case for the presidency isn't really tied to, well, popularity. The case for Perry is that (1) he's safely orthodox on every issue that Republicans care about; (2) as a big-state, multi-term governor, he's obviously qualified for the presidency by conventional standards; and (3) there may be no other candidates who satisfy conditions 1 and 2.
Now, that case may not be enough to get him the nomination. But it doesn't rest on being popular in Texas.