Bill Murchison

Heavens, no! Insists Michael McCrum, the "special prosecutor" who procured the indictment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry for alleged misuse of his constitutional power to veto legislation. Why, it wasn't about politics at all! The legal case against Perry, which discombobulates such plans as the governor might have for another presidential bid, is grounded, McCrum says, in "the facts and the law, and nothing else."

The prosecutor, if I may be permitted, is full of a commodity long recommended for agricultural enrichment. We may imagine if we like that a grand jury in one of America's most liberal counties concluded, without bias or rancor, that one of America's best-known conservative politicians illegally vetoed funding for that same county's "public integrity" unit presided over by a DA convicted of drunk driving. It was illegal for the governor to use his legal power? That seems essentially the narrative the jury bought from McCrum.

Austin, where conservatives feel like Southern Baptist missionaries in western Iraq, doesn't cotton to a Republican governor who doesn't cotton to the hand-tooled, leather-bound liberal agenda. Nor can the capital city be described as grateful to Perry for his part over the last decade in keeping Texas safe from liberal policies. Democrats hold not one single statewide office in Texas. You can see from any political perspective how the very mention of Perry's name in Austin might bring on dyspepsia, if not angina.

The governor is right to call the indictment "nothing more than an abuse of power." Legal experts appear largely to agree with his claim that "we will ultimately prevail" -- in terms, that is to say, of winning either acquittal or prompt dismissal of a case that holds no air. "One of the laws (cited by the grand jury) is hopelessly vague; the other really doesn't appear to fit," says Prof. Jonathan Turley of the George Washington University, who is a liberal. A Rice University professor, Mark Jones, says, "I can't imagine a jury convicting him on this."

The effects on Perry's presidential possibilities? Who can say? They might fall on account of suspicions floating up from this miasma. They might soar, at least in Republican circles, where Democratic meanness and vindictiveness a la Harry Reid is the sorest of sore points. We shall see. I wouldn't count this guy out of the running by any means. He is a great infighter.

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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