You might have heard yesterday that a Travis County, Texas, grand jury has indicted Governor Rick Perry for allegedly abusing his powers to try to force the Travis County DA, Rosemary Lehmberg, a convicted drunk driver, to resign.
This is the same “lawfare” strategy that’s been used in recent years to try to destroy the political careers of other Republicans: former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the late Senator Ted Stevens, and Wisconsin Governor Walker. (In Walker’s case, thankfully, it doesn’t seem to have worked.) I’m sure you can think of others.
The idea is to get charges in the media and drag out the “investigation” and court proceedings long enough to do the needed damage. The legal results don’t matter so much as the public traducing of the target. Even if cleared on all counts, the people will have been treated to months of allegations and rumors and denials, all meriting front page treatment, while the exoneration gets mere passing mention. In the mind of a cynical (but perhaps not cynical enough) public, all those charges must indicate the target was doing something wrong, right? We can’t vote for them, now, right?
But it may not work this time. When even one of President Obama’s closest advisers says publicly that the case looks weak, you know they’ve got problems:
Unless he was demonstrably trying to scrap the ethics unit for other than his stated reason, Perry indictment seems pretty sketchy.
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) August 16, 2014
“Sketchy” is being nice. It’s an utter BS charge, a perversion of the legal process designed to take down a strong potential 2016 candidate. The Governor was clearly acting within his authority under the Texas constitution, in this case vetoing money for the state’s Public Integrity Unit to force a personnel change: the removal of the convicted drunk driver District Attorney who heads the office.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this gets resolved quickly in Governor Perry’s favor.