Archived Story

Changes smoke, mirrors

Published 11:17am Friday, August 22, 2014

Over the past five-plus years the political opponents of President Barack Obama have done their absolute best to connect the president to scandals before and within his administration.

Those include the Birthers; Fast and Furious; Obamacare; and Benghazi. There are other attempts, other charges, but in each case the initial claims have ultimately turned out to be little more than the spent fury of the losers of the last two presidential elections. It is an American custom that peaked in the Clinton administration with the endless Kenneth Starr Special Prosecutor investigations.

By now it seems apparent that Republicans would prefer to Impeach any Democratic president on the basis that the voters made a horrific mistake that Republicans are willing to rectify.

But the problem is we are, and should be, obliged to respect voters, not only on election day but through the terms of those elected barring malfeasance of great magnitude.

This is true not only of presidents but of all elected officials and applies to Texas Gov. Rick Perry as much as to President Obama.

This week Perry was “booked” on two criminal charges filed in Texas against the governor by a grand jury.

While ultimately a jury will decide whether Perry is exonerated or guilty, there is certainly enough smoke and mirrors surrounding these charges to make a schoolgirl blush.

In Texas, a state where Republicans win just about every election, there is a small Democratic concave in Austin that has, over the years, held a good deal of power to disrupt politics as usual in an otherwise one-party system.

The Austin District Attorney, has, by virtue of being located where the state capital is, has the additional responsibility of leading the Texas office of public integrity. That DA is Democrat Rosemary Lehmberg.

Lehmberg set in motion the series of events that will now lead to Perry’s trial by drinking and driving one fine day. Her blood alcohol level when apprehended was almost three times the legal limit, and her behavior while in custody was remarkable only in that such it is one of the few times a court official had to be restrained. The video of Lehmberg’s time in custody would embarrass anyone who has the slightest respect for law and order.

Perry, no friend of Democrat Lehmberg or her political affiliation, demanded that Lehmberg resign from her position as district attorney given her regrettable conduct. It was not an outrageous request and Perry was not the only one making such request.

It should be noted that the governor’s motivation may not have been entirely pure, given he would have the power to replace her with a Republican expected to be more tolerant of the integrity of his administration.

When Lehmberg refused to resign Perry threatened to veto funding for the office of public integrity, pressuring Lehmberg and, perhaps, helping himself at the same time.

Unfortunately the governor followed through on his ill-considered public threat and that created a potential challenge to his actions on the basis of the defunding constituting coercion of Lehmberg.

So now we have all the hoopla of a public trial of Rick Perry by a political enemy.

It may well end as a ship then sails silently into the night and is seen no more, but in the meantime it serves as a reminder, should anyone need one, of how dirty a business politics can be when practiced by the experts.

Rick Perry probably deserves better, as did Bill Clinton and does Barack Obama. But until voters punish those who inflame and distract from effective governing we will continue the theatre of the absurd.

 

Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.

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