By Robert A. Vella
Texas Governor Rick Perry was indicted on two criminal charges earlier this month relating to abuse of power. These are very serious charges which could land him in jail for the rest of his life, if convicted. Republicans are in an uproar, calling the prosecution against him a partisan “witch-hunt.” Even Democratic Party establishment types like David Axelrod have referred to the indictment as “sketchy.”
It should be no surprise that political leaders from both parties would cringe at the thought of one of their own being criminally prosecuted for simply engaging in the kind of questionable shenanigans which they consider to be just par-for-the-course in the sordid arena of politics. But, what about the media? Those illustrious anchors, commentators, and beltway pundits who generate the white noise of mainstream news are focusing primarily on the effects Perry’s indictment will have on his presidential aspirations for 2016 rather than on the substance and consequences of his case. And, considering the dysfunctional state of America these days, this too should be of no great surprise.
I could provide countless examples of the media’s preoccupation with Rick Perry’s political future, although a simple internet search on his name would suffice. However, this Hardball with Chris Matthews video segment exemplifies my point quite well.
First of all, and despite the trivialization of this criminal case by the national media, it appears that Governor Perry’s threat, to veto funding for the Public Integrity Unit – an anti-corruption governmental body – unless Rosemary Lehmberg (D) – the district attorney who heads the unit – resigned from her office, was in fact illegal under Texas law (see: Rick Perry Defends Himself Against Two Felony Charges, and Rick Perry indictment getting lost in national media?).
Secondly, the judge who assigned special prosecutor Michael McCrum to this case is a Republican. Robert C. “Bert” Richardson was put in charge after another judge – Democrat Julie Kocurek – had recused herself.
Whether Perry is ultimately convicted and imprisoned is an open question. Political corruption charges are incredibly difficult to prosecute in this day and age due to the devolving nature of America’s public (and private) institutions. As society becomes increasingly stratified, with great disparities between rich and poor, justice is not being administered fairly and the nation’s laws are not being applied equally.
The issue here is corruption, or more specifically, institutional corruption. If Americans truly want to turn the country around as they say they do, then they must start taking a hard line on this growing problem of ethics. And, the media must begin focusing on the substance of real news rather than on making up superficial stories about some dimwitted Texas governor whose political career is all but over.
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