TBO.com: Tampa Bay Online, The Tampa Tribune and The Tampa Times - breaking news and weather.
Friday, Nov 28, 2014

The Right Stuff

A politics blog by Tom Jackson

Tom Jackson's baseball card - if he had one - would report he throws left, writes right. In his columns and blog, "The Right Stuff," southpaw Jackson provides insight into the evolving human condition from a distinctly conservative point of view.

This isn’t complicated, for Perry or Boehner

By
Published:

In the wake of last week’s indictment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry that is simultaneously laughable, indefensible and educational — liberals hit a trifecta! — pundits on the left are scrambling to link Perry’s legal kerfuffle with the House of Representatives’ suit against President Obama.

Because, you know, one legal action is pretty much the same as the next — all that objecting and sustaining and motions denied — and all court houses look the same. And because Perry said, “We don’t settle political differences with indictments in this country” at the same time John Boehner is about to make Obama lawyer up.

Also because lefty pundits think we’re all really, really stoopid.

It won’t work. No matter what Chris Weigant says, beginning with the idea that the facts of the cases are irrelevant.

Perry and his defenders are going to be making the case for strong executive power, which (they will say) is supposed to be executed without the interference of the courts. That’s Perry’s argument in a nutshell, and so far he has not been shy about strongly making this argument himself.

But this is going to become a major political stumbling block for House Republicans when John Boehner actually files his own lawsuit against President Obama. Because they’ll be arguing that, in Texas, the executive should be allowed to execute his powers without interference from the courts; while at the same time arguing that on the national level the courts should indeed interfere with the executive attempting to exercise his powers. The parallels are going to be obvious to all, in fact.

Again, the facts of both cases won’t even really enter into the discussion much, because while one party thinks the Texas case is weak, the other party is going to say the same thing about Boehner’s case. The real argument, in both cases, is: Should this be the way politics works? At what point should political arguments be handled by the justice system? Perry’s case is all about politics from beginning to end. Boehner’s case will be too.

Let’s give the American people a little more credit here. Weigant notwithstanding, the facts of the two cases (assuming Boehner files; he’s been authorized, but has not acted), while crucial to understanding what’s going on, are not remotely comparable, and neither are the potential ramifications. Americans won’t be long in catching on.

Let’s start with the ramifications. If prosecutors in deep blue Travis County, Texas — where this absurd plot was hatched — prevail, Perry, possibly cultivating another run at the GOP presidential nomination, could be sent to prison. For a long time. Well into the 22nd Century, in fact.

By contrast, if House plaintiffs win their suit, the worst that could happen to the president is he would be directed to fulfill his oath of office, which would include enforcing laws (including the Affordable Care Act) as written. Of course he would appeal, and while attorneys on both sides run up scandalous numbers of billable hours attempting to settle a separation-of-powers dispute, Obama would continue to operate as before, right up until his term runs out in almost precisely 29 months, making way for incoming President Rick Perry — don’t laugh — and rendering moot further consideration of the House v Barack Obama.

As for the facts, it comes down to this: House Republicans have authorized suing the president for abuse of office because, they say, he’s not been doing his job. He ignores plainly written and duly enacted laws, or portions of laws, he finds inconvenient. In Travis County, prosecutors wrung an indictment from a (likely politicized) grand jury because the governor did his job, they say, too stridently.

Did I say politicized? I did. Grand jury member Rho David Chalmers is a Democrat operative who was a delegate at her party’s state convention and posted pictures and her activities to social media sites during the weeks the grand jury was in session. But the grand jury’s possible/probable partisanship is just now a side issue.

What’s key is appreciating the American public’s capacity to see two court actions involving elected chief executives and being able to grasp one is not remotely the same as the other. And in that respect, Perry is fortunate to have Rosemary Lehmberg going for him. What Tallahassee-based political adviser Rick Wilson says regarding this “vodka-soaked harridan” on the matter cannot be improved upon.

It also helps to have a perfect foil to play against, and by Bukowski’s Ghost this woman puts the barf in barfly. If you haven’t seen her drunken, belligerent behavior while she was being booked for DWI, it’s a thing of beauty. The backers from George Soros, Inc. who started this whole plan thought Lehmberg would be seen as a reformist crusader against the Outlaw Rick Perry. Instead, America met Lehmberg and immediately saw a blustering, detestable booze-hound with a liver the consistency of haggis and a liberal’s taste for bullying and slapdash prosecutorial misconduct. Far from harming Perry politically, this attack puts the stumbles of 2012 behind him and gives Perry the aura of a fighter willing to take on the Left on its own terms. That’s a gift Lehmberg never anticipated giving her nemesis. Even his booking photo from the pro-forma mugshot has gone viral, with a confident Perry rocking a sly smile. Republicans never saw this Rick Perry in 2012, and they’re liking both the swagger and the competence of his counterattack.

Hard to separate the two? Rick Perry wanted the resignation of a boozy, brazen risk to motorists who is not only Travis County’s top law-enforcement official, but in that capacity also oversees a statewide agency that scrutinizes the ethics of public officeholders. If he didn’t get it, he’d veto funding for the office. That’s not only his First Amendment right, it also provided the Texas legislature useful insight into the governor’s thinking. Then he made good on his threat, exercising a line-item veto that is his prerogative under the state constitution.

Boehner, on the other hand, mostly wants Obama to enforce every last tittle and jot of Obamacare, which he twisted arms throughout 2010 to get and has since worked — using the term loosely — diligently to postpone, delay or otherwise dilute the parts of the act that, if carried out, would make Americans despise it even more than they already do, and they’d head into November wanting to punish severely whoever was responsible. (That would be Democrats.)

All about politics? More like sort of about politics. And being able to tell the difference is plenty easier than walking, heel-to-toe, along a painted straight line.

Subscribe to The Tampa Tribune


Comments