Guard, Turn, Brown, Perry, Dodge, Spin, Thrust . . .

I penned this op-ed for The Sacramento Bee on the feud between California Gov. Jerry Brown and Texas Gov. Ricky Perry — why Perry is Brown’s true rival instead of the long-shot Republican who hopes to unseat him this fall.

That’s Neel Kashkari, the businessman/TARP architect who finished second in California’s June open primary. But the problem with that rivalry: Kashkari trails badly in the early polls; he has a hard time getting media traction, which means resorting to outré ideas such as his recent stint on the mean streets of Fresno to check out the homeless existence firsthand.

Moreover, because Kashkari is running as a big-tent Republican, his isn’t necessarily the same vision as that of red-state Republicans. While he and Brown clash over high-speed rail construction and the validity of California’s economic rebirth, a candidates’ debate (if they actually have one — i’m betting they will, but only the one) might not have much in the way of fireworks.

However, there is a conservative Republican who likes to throw his weight around California. And that’s Perry, who frequents the Golden State to poach jobs and raise his national profile.

It’s not a feud in the sense that it’s an actual shooting war, or that the two governors are on a political collision course. Brown, the nation’s oldest governor (he’s 76), is past him prime for a presidential run and, thanks to term limits, is out of a job come November 2018 assuming he wins his fall. Perry likely will run for president in 2016, which works out well since he’s in the last year of his final term as the nation’s longest-serving governor (he took over when George W. Bush traded in Austin for the White House).

However, the two embody one of the largest gulfs in the American political landscape: big-blue California vs. big-red Texas.

To wit:

1) Which state has the better economic state?

2) Which state has the better approach to immigration?

3) Which state has the better style of justice?

In a better world, the two governors wold get together for a debate and hash out these and other differences. Maybe we could get Stanford to host, if UT-Austin or Rice were willing to return the favor in a return match.

Meanwhile, the media have found a rival for Perry. It’s Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, also a presidential aspirant. The two took swipes at each other at the recent RedState confab in Fort Worth — Perry warning not to buy into experience; Cruz warning not to buy into gubernatorial jobs hype.

The funny thing about the Perry-Cruz feud: I though Cruz’s dueling partner was Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (the two have publicly differed over foreign policy). And there’s Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who doesn’t mind being pitted against both Cruz and Paul as the most electable of the three in a national contest.

If that makes sense, we can make it more confusing. Perry’s also had his differences with Paul — again, over foreign policy. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s also gotten into it with Paul (libertarianism, porkbarrel spending). Which means, at some point, it will be Perry and Christie going at.

So if the debate with Brown doesn’t work out, maybe Perry can work out a deal with Rand Paul.

Assuming he’s willing to stand in line . . .

And since you made your way to the end of this post, here’s your headline-explaining reward:

Ok, maybe I’ve watched too may cartoons over the years . . .

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