More than a week after Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) was indicted on two felony counts, the Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan shared her concerns about the case on national television yesterday. The exchange was one of my favorite of any Sunday show this year.
NOONAN: I think, yes, it was local Democratic overreach. It's just a dumb case. I don't think it should have been brought. Naturally he looks like someone who is... STEPHANOPOULOS: But the prosecutor is a former Republican, I think. NOONAN: That may be. But when you look at this case, it just looks crazy.
Of course, this is less about what "may be," and more about what is. In this case, the Republican columnist had nine days to get the basic details straight, but Noonan nevertheless raised the specter of "local Democratic overreach" -- despite the fact that local Democrats had literally nothing to do with the indictment.
Told that her key complaint was based on a falsehood, Noonan didn't acknowledge her error, deciding instead to say the indictment "looks crazy" anyway. Wayne Slater joked that the Wall Street Journal
pundit "looked confused
" by the details she should have known but didn't.
For the record, Democratic officials in Travis County recused themselves from the case, and the prosecutor in this case, Michael McCrum, worked in the Bush/Quayle administration. What's more, McCrum, who enjoys a solid reputation as a credible attorney, was appointed to oversee this case by a Republican judge. To see this as "local Democratic overreach" is to simply not understand what happened.
It is, however, this kind of confusion that has created an amazing political environment. The Dallas Morning News reported
late last week that Perry is so encouraged by the political reaction to his indictment that his political action committee "is selling T-shirts with his mug shot on the front. On the back is the mug shot of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg."
Remember, in this case, the reference to Perry's "mug shot" is literal.
Meanwhile, Texans for Public Justice's Craig McDonald and Andrew Wheat wrote a compelling piece
defending the case on the merits.
After reviewing the evidence for four months, the grand jury authorized McCrum to charge Perry with two serious felonies -- abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public official. Speaking to the Houston Chronicle, several grand jurors expressed frustration with those who blindly condemn their conclusions without seeing any of the evidence that jurors reviewed. "I think if and when the facts come out," one said, "that'll change." [...] Although we filed the complaint that triggered the Perry investigation, we don't know exactly what evidence McCrum amassed for the grand jury. A trial would not only give Governor Perry his day in court but would let the public -- and skeptical Beltway pundits -- judge for themselves whether McCrum has the goods.