It lets him play victim, among other things.
By Lucia Graves
August 18, 2014
After the schadenfreude surrounding news of Rick Perry’s indictment subsided on Friday night, America awoke this weekend to a general consensus that the case against the Texas governor was overblown. Obama adviser David Axelrod deemed it “sketchy,” Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz dubbed it “outrageous,” and MSNBC’s Tim Noah tweeted, “I’m no fan of Rick Perry & I’m no lawyer. But this indictment looks pretty thin to me.”
After a close read of the situation, New York magazine’s Jon Chait summed it up thusly: “Perry may not be much smarter than a ham sandwich, but he is exactly as guilty as one.”
What had first appeared a gross abuse of power seemed more reasonable given the revelation that the public official he sought to oust was caught driving very, very drunk. Indeed, upon a little analysis, Perry’s conclusion that District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg was no longer fit to lead the Public Integrity Unit in Travis County seemed, if anything, perfectly logical.
Casting the indictment as part of a liberal witch hunt, Perry stood behind his actions in media appearances over the weekend, and conservatives across the spectrum helped bolster his case. “Breaking: Travis County prosecutor indicts Rick Perry for trying to cut the prosecutor’s budget,” tweeted conservative writer Eric Erickson. Ron Paul, after noting that he’s no fan of the governor, told Andrea Mitchell the Perry indictment is “pure politics.”
If anything, the indictment news cycle has been kind to Perry. “GOP state level activists love nothing more right now than a leader with the guts to stand up against a system they believe is failing the people and protecting the elites,” Republican strategist Bruce Haynes of Purple Strategies told Politico. “Ultimately this may not be a threat to Perry as much as it is a gift.”
Perry’s indictment could even help him rally support in some corners of the GOP. As news of the indictment broke, Perry tweeted out a link to his newly formed political action committee, RickPAC: “I started RickPAC to help elect strong candidates that share the conservative vision for the nation. Donate today!” Whether you think his timing was unfortunate or brilliant depends on your interpretation of the situation, but recall how well Democrats fundraised off impeachment threats.
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