Rick Perry: Terrorists at the Border
The media has lately been debunking Gov. Perry's claims that Islamic terrorists may attempt to cross the Texas border through the desert to attack our cities. But it's only his presidential aspirations that make this news. The media thoroughly debunked those absurd claims from the time Perry and others first suggested Islamic terrorists had crossed the Rio Grande in 2006. But just like now, he kept repeating them because, false or not, the meme appealed to the far-right base in the Republican Party while avoiding tougher stances, for example, on employers who hired illegal immigrants. And the fact that he stuck to his guns in the face of the "liberal media" saying he was wrong made the base happier still.
Now Perry is hoping the same "Damn the Facts" approach (Bill Maher calls such memes "zombie lies.") will work on the national stage. But by comparison to a presidential campaign, the Texas media have been lap dogs. I don't think that bush-league stuff will play once the national press corps hones in on his campaign; IMO, this is a recipe for repeating his 2012 performance, crumbling under media scrutiny when his moment in the spotlight hits. Perry famously avoided the Texas press in his latter gubernatorial campaigns, spending tens of millions on TV advertising to appeal directly to the voters. But you can't avoid fact checkers running nationwide for the presidency.
Wendy Davis: On ending statute of limitations for rape
It's bad enough that Wendy Davis, hoping to capitalize on an old Supreme Court opinion by Greg Abbott siding against a rape victim, has begun to rally for eliminating the statute of limitations for rape. Now Greg Abbott has said he favors the policy, too. So led by a demagoguing Democrat, Abbott felt pressure to follow suit and the result: A bipartisan consensus for a really terrible policy. Thanks for nothing.
To be clear: Texas has already removed the statute of limitations for rape in cases where DNA evidence matches an old rape kit [see CCP 12.01(1)(c)]. Davis is suggesting that cases with less conclusive standards of proof should also have no statute of limitations; currently it's ten years in non-DNA cases. Beyond that, how in the world is anyone supposed to prepare a defense against an alleged sexual contact from more than a decade ago? Or for that matter, to prove the event affirmatively beyond a reasonable doubt ten years later without DNA? Keep in mind, the Lege could only remove the statute of limitations for future cases; the episodes where DNA accused people who couldn't be tried were all from before the law was changed to reflect DNA advancements. To the extent this is a problem, it's already been fixed as best as the Lege can. What Davis proposed is misanthropic madness, politicizing rape in a way a male candidate probably couldn't get away with.
It's not just that this is a bad idea, it's a cynical one. Which is why it's unsurprising that her opponent issued an equally cynical "Me Too." After all, what candidate wants to appear on the same side of an argument as alleged rapists in the home stretch of an election? Especially for polling driven campaigns (rapists never poll well), these look on the surface like easy shots. OTOH, if you were looking for a candidate in this race who favored strong, substantive due process rights to avoid convicting innocent people, neither party has a thing to offer you.
Davis trying to out-flank Abbott to the right is a great example of how we got here: Too many Texas Democrats over the years have tried the tuffer-than-thou strategy and it's rarely effective. Certainly Davis won't beat Greg Abbott that way, or at all, really.
(RELATED: From Kiah Collier at the Houston Chronicle (8/22), "Experts cast doubt on Davis rape statute plan.")
I get that both these candidates face losing prospects and feel the need to swing for the fences. But regrettably, as in sports, adversity in politics more frequently reveals one's character than shapes it. What's revealed by these two dubious campaign gambits, I'm afraid, doesn't speak favorably of those in the highest echelons of the two Texas political parties.
It's going to be a long, ugly campaign season.