If Texas Governor Perry has his way, the two count felony indictment for abusing his powers as governor will turn into a plus in his effort to get the Republican presidential nomination. He wants to try to put the prosecutor on trial and say that it is all a political act, an abuse of power by the Travis County prosecutor. In other words, he wants to turn himself into a martyr in the fight against evil Democrats who, you know, will do anything to bring down a Republican.
Wait a minute. Wait an hour. This is the same governor, along with his former patron G.W, Bush, who professed absolute and complete faith in the criminal justice system of Texas when it comes to the death penalty. Now that a political death penalty is being held over Perry’s head, he is standing up loud and long that the process is being abused for political purposes. If it can be abused, or abusive, in the case of the governor of the state, who is to say it cannot also be abused with the fate of the far less power at stake?
Can he have it both ways? On the one hand, the criminal justice system never makes mistakes in sending people to death (they’ve always got appeals right? No, that takes money and lawyers, part of what put many people in jail in the first place, their inability to afford good, strong legal counsel).
The weak, the poor, the educated and the minority person accused of a crime with no money and with an assumption of probable guilt from many citizens, doesn’t get to go on television and shout about how the prosecutor is being abusive by making an indictment. They get none of that. If they are fortunate, the might get a decent court appointed lawyer who, despite low pay, will do the best he can to put on decent defense. The state, meanwhile, is able to spend almost anything it wants to get a conviction. In many cases, the accused knows the deck is stacked and, even when innocent, decides to “plea out” with a guilty plea because the risk of going to trial, where the book will be thrown at him if convicted, is just too great.
Perry can protest all he wants to. For whatever reason, he is caught up in the legal system that he and many around him say is a wonderful, fair and honorable way to send people to jail for long terms. He might sound strong and believable in attacking the indictment, but he is just another accused person trying to get the best deal he can.
By the way, the issue is not so much the veto of funding for investigations for the prosecutor’s office, but the fact that he threatened to veto the funds if the district attorney did not resign. The veto is one thing, the threat is quite something different altogether. Perry might, indeed, be found not guilty, but there can be no doubt that he tried to use the threat to exceed the ordinary and normal powers of a Texas governor.
Doug Terry, 8.17.14
The fact that Perry used his appearances on various Sunday talk shows, including Fox News, to attack President Obama as having undermined the “rule of law” in America not only comes off as a cheap shot, but it is rather unseemly. Criminal defendants, regardless of what they believe about the basis of their indictment, are urged to be humble before the Courts and the justice system and many have been punished, by having years added to their prison sentences, for speaking out in defiance of indictments. That, of course, is unlikely to happen to Perry, whether he wins or loses the legal battle.
Recent times have shown that there are no circumstances which would restrain a Republican attack on Obama as they seek to nullify the elections of 2008 and 2012 by weakening his capacity to lead the American public. It is difficult to identify a more partisan time in American political life, with a governor using his indictment as an occasion to attack a sitting president, especially since Obama had nothing to do with the indictment. Nothing. Of course, the fact that a president doesn’t reach down into local matters will not stop the criticism. It is a great way, apparently, to deflect attention away from Perry’s own actions, whether or not they were actually illegal.