It’s no secret here in Texas that our Secessionist-in-Chief has resorted to some rather aggressive campaign tactics to maintain his position at the top of our Lone Star State political food chain. I’ve been pointing out that we can expect more of the same in his presidential bid, given the stakes involved. You’re likely to see moves that would make Karl Rove’s dirty tricks look like school-yard pranks. However, since I’m a Cassandra – given the gift of prophecy but fated never to be believed – today, I thought you might like to hear it from another source.
Ken Herman, of the Austin Statesman newspaper, has been getting requests for some Perry campaign “reminders”, specifically, a request that people be reminded that Perry has on more than one occasion accused his opponents of killing people.
Now, coming from a man who has executed 234 people without a single sleepless night, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think this is opening up a big ol’ can of Texas worms. Believe me, it’s not. It’s simply Perry’s way of asserting himself as the alpha-killer. When he kills, it's a matter of "justice" being served.
Read on below the bloodstain for Ken Herman’s revelations on Perry’s campaign smears.
In 2002, Perry's gubernatorial campaign ran an ad that longtime Texas political scientist Jerry Polinard branded, at the time, as "by far the most negative ad I've ever heard. It seems to cross a line that probably shouldn't be crossed."
The ad linked Democratic challenger Tony Sanchez to the 1985 murder of Enrique "Kiki" Camarena, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent who had been kidnapped and tortured in Mexico. The ad featured two former Camarena DEA colleagues. "The same drug dealers who killed Kiki laundered millions in drug money through Tony Sanchez's bank," Hector Berrellez said on the ad.
Those of you who enjoyed the Perry-Sanchez race in 2002 recall a lot of back and forth concerning drug money that flowed through the failed Tesoro Savings & Loan, a Laredo institution Sanchez controlled. Nobody at Tesoro was ever charged with wrongdoing in connection with that money, estimated at $25 million.
Challenged about the ad, Perry, at a news conference with Camarena's sister, defended it by saying Sanchez "had the opportunity in the mid-1980s to stand up with and for law enforcement. When he was notified that his bank was being used to launder drug money, he had a decision to make, and he decided to be with the drug dealers."
Back when the ad was a big controversy, David Almaraz, who had been a federal prosecutor in the Tesoro-related drug money case, said Sanchez "cooperated fully" with the investigation. He called Perry's allegations "absolutely preposterous and completely false, without any foundation in fact."
Perry went on to beat Sanchez by a wide enough margin — 18 percentage points — to indicate that he probably did not need to resort to the almost murder charge.
This is pretty typical for Perry. As you're seeing, he's a "shoot first, ask questions later - or never" kind of guy. There's a reason that those smirk lines are permanently etched on his face.
More recently, Perry neutralized his Democratic challenger, Houston mayor Bill White, a man whose foresight, compassion, and ability to work cooperatively with all factions would have made him a great governor. Read on to see what Perry dished out on this fine man in a television ad featuring the widow of a slain Houston police officer:
"I'm Joslyn Johnson. Four years, ago my husband, Rodney, a Houston police officer was murdered in the line of duty by an undocumented alien who had been convicted and arrested several times before, and, in fact, he had been deported," Houston Police Sgt. Johnson said on the ad. "In the past, Bill White supported sanctuary city policies that made it difficult for officers to safely do their jobs. I trust Governor Perry to secure our safety. Bill White had his opportunity as mayor of Houston and he failed. Join me in supporting Rick Perry."
And many did. Perry blitzed White by 13 percentage points.
Rodney Johnson was killed in 2006 by Juan Leonardo Quintero, the subject of a traffic stop by Rodney Johnson, who was killed by a handgun he failed to notice in Quintero's waistband.
This newspaper's PolitiFact folks checked the record and found that White had not supported sanctuary city policies in Houston, a fact that puts the ad's basic point in doubt. But facts tend to get fuzzified in political ads....
One thing history tells us for sure: We should not be surprised if, when voting days approach, Perry the happy warrior morphs into Perry the political barbarian.
Don't say I didn't warn you. Stay tuned. It's only a matter of time before this "Texas Miracle" of campaign strategy gets scaled up for a prime-time national audience.
NOTE on POLL: the third answer should read "Opening Texas Executions to Pay-per-View Audiences"