Let me say what no journalist/pundit writing about the Rick Perry indictment is brave enough to say: I don’t know.
I don’t know what’s going to happen. Why? Because I haven’t seen the evidence that was presented to the grand jury. Perry and others have not even testified. There’s so much we do not know about this story. Reporters, pundits, and their like feel a constant need to fill space. They write whether they know something or not. Why? Because they want to get ahead of the competition.
Some people are saying that Perry is guilty and will be convicted and/or should resign. Ironically, Perry might really like to resign to focus on running for president. He’s already on the road a lot.
I get suspicious when they call your indictment an “asset” or even a “blessing” for Perry. It has been portrayed in the media as some partisan witch hunt. It may well have started that way. However, Judge Bert Richardson, a Republican, named Michael McCrum as independent prosecutor for the case. Michael McCrum has an excellent reputation and enjoyed the support of the state’s two Republican senators when he was being considered for U.S. attorney for the District of Texas. Efforts to portray this as a partisan battle between Perry and a drunken Democratic District Attorney will not hold up when people see where these questions are coming from. Even if you doubt the leanings of the prosecutor, the grand jury that indicted Perry found something in that case. Some people have looked at this evidence and seen something. I’m not convinced it’s because of partisan politics.
Will it be enough there to convict Perry? Probably not
Can Rick Perry afford any more distractions and baggage? No.
At this point in his career Perry is hoping for more out of life than a lack of jail time and Republicans are not going to be interested in nominating a candidate whose flaws have been thoroughly investigated, documented, and reported. As I noted in an earlier post, Perry has already finished poorly in the Texas GOP straw poll. His candidacy does not need more problems.
Perry might still be able to pull it out. Nixon certainly did. However, citing Nixon as a model of redemption is not the most comforting image since the nation just commemorated the 40th anniversary of his resignation. Clinton (either one–maybe both) survived scandals. But again, we’re not talking about the name Republicans will enjoy referencing.
Perry should be worried when Democratic strategist Robert Axelrod and Republican rivals offer up their support. Their embrace of Perry may have a very different meaning than he thinks.
The phrasing coming out of the spin machine is that this is an attempt to “criminalize” politics. That argument may resonate within the beltway in Washington or the political circles of Austin. Perry would be well served to remember that some Americans use the words “criminal” and political” interchangeably and probably wouldn’t mind putting Congress in prison. Perry (and everyone else in politics) would be wise not to embrace this argument because it equate embraces everything Americans hate about “politics as usual.”
This indictment is a serious problem for Perry. Strategists and pundits who dismiss it do so at their peril. There is a lot of this story left to play out. I don’t mind admitting that I don’t know what is going to happen. And, I’m in no rush. Perry is not on the ballot in 2014. Texans have other decisions to ponder.