The Muddle of Rick Perry’s Indictment

Rick PerryI’ve been biding my time on this whole business with Rick Perry and his actions to get Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg to resign. Over the weekend, Jonathan Chait wrote, This Indictment Of Rick Perry Is Unbelievably Ridiculous. Now, I often disagree with Chait who is awfully neoliberal in many areas. But he is also incredibly smart, informed, and thoughtful. But the truth is, I think that Chait and others are jumping to a lot of conclusions. The truth is, we still don’t know what evidence Perry was indicted on. The dominant media narrative seems to be the one that Rick Perry wants.

The most troubling part of the narrative is that this is part of some Democratic witch hunt. That doesn’t really fly. As USA Today mentioned in an editorial criticizing the indictment, “It is being brought by a special prosecutor appointed by a Republican judge.” So I wish that liberals would stop arguing things such as that it helps Chris Christie by implying that all questions about Republican corruption are politically motivated. This one just doesn’t seem to be.

As for the main argument that the indictment is based upon nothing, well, we just don’t know that. Most interestingly, My San Antonio reported, Perry Aides Offered Lehmberg a Job for Resignation. This muddles everything. On the one hand, Perry’s office allegedly offered Lehmberg a different job in the DA’s office. But they apparently also offered to replace her with a Democrat. That last bit of information would seem to eliminate Perry’s primary motive. Or maybe he felt any other Democrat would be less effective than Lehmberg. Or maybe he was just looking for a way to save face. Who knows at this time?

And that’s the point: we don’t know. James Moore at Huffington Post did a good job of laying out the potential problems for Perry, Why Rick Perry Will Be Convicted. In the article, he noted a bit of an inconsistency in Perry’s claim that Lehmberg was unfit for office because of the drunk driving conviction. Moore wrote:

Two other Texas DAs were arrested for DUI during Perry’s tenure in office and he spoke not a discouraging word about their indiscretions. Kaufman County DA Rick Harrison drove the wrong way into traffic and was found guilty of drunk driving in 2009 and in 2003 Terry McEachern, DA of Swisher County, was convicted of a DUI. Perry said nothing. It’s probably only coincidental that both of those individuals were Republicans and did not oversee an investigative unit responsible for keeping elected officials honest in the capitol.

In addition to this, the special prosecutor Michael McCrum has indicated to Vice that the case isn’t about the veto threat itself. He said, “I’m investigating the circumstances surrounding the veto and whether the governor’s actions were appropriate or not under the law.” And Jeffrey Toobin at the New Yorker has indicated that at this point, it doesn’t much matter if what Perry did was common, “[C]ourts respond to the argument that ‘everyone does it’ more or less the same way that your mother did.”

In the end, I don’t suppose it much matters. Rick Perry was never going to be the next President. No one on the left likes him. And on the right, he’s been an outcast ever since he indicated that he had a soul in the 2012 primary, “If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they’ve been brought there by no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart.” The Republican Party, in fact, does not have a heart and they won’t forget that.

So whether or not Rick Perry gets convicted doesn’t much matter outside of Texas. But I do wish that my fellow liberals would stop arguing that this is partisan and that Rick Perry is some kind of victim. It’s nothing like that.  It’s just Texas.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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