September 12, 2011

Rick Perry, the death penalty, and the "Texas governor is weak" argument.

Jonathan Weisman in the Wall Street Journal:
In 2009, two days before an agency called the Texas Forensic Science Commission was to hear evidence that an innocent man may have been put to death, Gov. Rick Perry removed the panel's chairman and two other members, replacing them with a fresh set of allies who then bottled up the issue.

The move, which the commissioners say took them by surprise, was one of many Mr. Perry has taken to strengthen his authority and centralize control—turning a traditionally weak governorship into a power center. Now a Republican presidential candidate, Mr. Perry says he wants to diminish the reach of the federal government. His history suggests he would be unafraid to exercise power to achieve his goals....
The move, which the commissioners say took them by surprise, was one of many Mr. Perry has taken to strengthen his authority and centralize control—turning a traditionally weak governorship into a power center. Now a Republican presidential candidate, Mr. Perry says he wants to diminish the reach of the federal government. His history suggests he would be unafraid to exercise power to achieve his goals.
It could also suggest the opposite! If the point is, he's good at consolidating his own power, then, in a position of national power, he might consolidate power at the national level.

As for the death penalty issue in particular, Rick Perry — at last week's debate — did not rely on the argument that the Texas governor had little power. I believe some bloggers brought up the weak-governor argument, and I thought it was notable that he eschewed that excuse. I assumed he had decided to forgo that argument because it is generally unhelpful to his cause. (He wants to portray himself as a richly experienced executive.) But now I see the a specific reason involving the details of the Cameron Todd Willingham execution.

There's another debate tonight — which I plan to live-blog — and I hope the questioners — it's CNN this time — ask him about the issue raised in Weisman's article.

17 comments:

Fred4Pres said...

As front runner, Perry has been condemned to execution by the MSM.

DaveW said...

I'm opposed to the death penalty. I don't buy the argument that it's a deterrent and I don't like the idea of empowering the government to put people to death.

But this is a losing argument for democrats, and surely they know that.

Fred4Pres said...

I am not a huge fan of the DP, but sometimes it is warranted and it is really a state's right issue more than anything (the feds rarely execute anyone). Perry and Bush reflect the attitude of Texans. I would prefer some more reflection on the process and the understanding that it is better not to go forward with an execution if there is any doubt whatsoever.

If only to shut these critics down.

Dustin said...

The commission didn't 'bottle' the issue. They resolved the issue in a way other than the democrats wanted.

They always say that's proof of corruption, but it isn't.

There's plenty of evidence in that case. Read both sides of the case before concluding Rick Perry or anyone else is hiding something. It's true the arson investigation was faulty. It may very well be that he would have been convicted without that investigation anyway.

This is the closest the left has ever come to finding a man who was executed with a problem in his case (Which is remarkable given how many executions there are). Just imagine how desperate some on the left are to spin the facts. Just imagine.

Or better yet, read the case.

Anyway, I thought Althouse's initial explanation (That Perry isn't going to blurt out how weak his role is) was correct. But compare his role to the US President, and I think it's good experience. Perry is the kind of leader who can take obstruction from other branches. He handles it with long term planning. If something turns out to be planned poorly, he's going to cut his losses and accept defeat, while moving on to other battles.

I think what we need is a low drama executive who understands divided government, but wishes to run the agencies on shoestrings. And anyway, his view on the death penalty couldn't be clearer. He's not really hiding anything.

traditionalguy said...

Perry can say that Texas has a system of safeguards against the innocent being condemned.

Can Bloomberg in NYC say that his city has a system of safeguards against the innocent being condemned?

More people are executed in NYC every week than Texas executes in a year.

When you get right down to it, the issue is who wields the power to kill: Does a lawful State wield it, or do unlawful criminal thugs wield it?

X said...

One of James Byrd's murderers will be executed next week. Will that be Texas or Rick Perry doing it?

Scott M said...

Perry is the kind of leader who can take obstruction from other branches.

If 2010 and Weiner's district's special election is any sort of clue, he won't need to take it.

Fred4Pres said...

I do not think DP proponents need to apologize for it. But they should recognize it is permanent and people make mistakes (including juries, judges and prosecutors).

Dust Bunny Queen said...

it's CNN this time

for crimmeny sake!! CNN. Why can't the republicans get a 'host' and 'moderators' that are not in the hip pocket of the Democrats. CNN may be a bit better than MSNBC, but it just baffles.

I think the death penalty has its place as both a deterrent and as a punishment for only the most heinous of crimes. Some people just do not deserve to live.

What needs to be changed is the process that brings the person to the end. Make sure that it is completely just and fair and to the best of our ability that there are NO mistakes.

Mistakes will happen. That is just life. But we do our best.

For the Dems and the pack of leg humping chihuahuas that is the media to make a big deal of this is a mistake. Most people support a judicious use of the death penalty and would see this as what it is.... a specious attack in order to score political points that has no consideration whatsoever for the victims of crime.

roesch-voltaire said...

"If the point is, he's good at consolidating his own power,"-- you can say that again! Perry managed to dole out tax breaks, contracts and many, many appointments to his most generous supporters. If anything, under Perry, the usual pay to play culture of D.C will increase-- you betcha.

traditionalguy said...

Point to remember: CNN's audience is European and world wide.

CNN will be pandering to that audience about Texas Cowboys as well as the few viewers it has in the USA.

The rest of the world doesn't have our freedoms (thank you George Washington et al.)and they cannot compute a bargain that our freedoms also require from us, which is that we bet our lives on it when there is a deadly abuse of those freedoms.

Hagar said...

Could be an interesting conundrum.

It is going to take a very strong-willed and competent President with a loyal majority in both Houses to cut the Federal Government down to size.

How likely is it that such a President and majority Congress are going to do that? It would be going against nature, no?

Oligonicella said...

DaveW --

"I'm opposed to the death penalty. I don't buy the argument that it's a deterrent..."

Being only mildly quippy, please point to one executee who became a recidivist.

It was never meant to make others not want to murder. It was meant to deal with those who do.

In other words, that point is straw.

Thorley Winston said...

In 2009, two days before an agency called the Texas Forensic Science Commission was to hear evidence that an innocent man may have been put to death, Gov. Rick Perry removed the panel's chairman and two other members, replacing them with a fresh set of allies who then bottled up the issue.

Someone can correct me if I’m misremembering this but hadn’t their terms/appointments already expired when they were replaced? In which case they weren’t so much “removed” as they left at about the time when they were originally supposed to.

DKWalser said...

One of the things that concerns me about Perry is his attitude toward and, in my opinion, his abuse of executive power. The linked article provides one example: Perry removed commission members who were about to take an action he didn't like. Another example is Perry's response to the Texas Legislature's failure to require school girls be vaccinated for the HPV virus.

Governor Perry’s response to the HPV question reminded me of one of my greatest concerns about Perry’s candidacy. Governor Perry disagreed with the Texas Legislature’s failure to make HPV vaccination mandatory. He felt so strongly about the issue that he issued an executive order instituting the mandate. I’m not sure that I disagree with him about the substance of the issue. I haven’t studied the issues surrounding the HPV virus vaccine to know whether I’d support a mandate or not. However, I am very concerned with how Perry handled the issue: He overruled the will of the people (as manifest through their elected representatives in the legislature) and “sided with life” by instituting the mandate through executive fiat.

Why is this so troubling? One of the primary functions of government is to secure our inalienable rights. A primary way government protects those rights is through respect for the rule of law. Perry circumvented the rule of law by issuing an executive order creating a law the legislature had refused to enact.

President Obama’s Administration has acted similarly. His EPA has sought to enact through regulation the substance of the Cap & Trade Bill that was defeated in Congress. Governor Perry may disagree with President Obama on the substance of the EPA’s actions, but he cannot disagree with Obama’s method of getting his way. Both have shown a willingness to enact law through fiat.

Governor Perry would object to the comparison. After all, he only jettisoned the rule of law when it prevented his “coming down on the side of life”. He shows respect for the rule of law except when greater concerns outweigh his fidelity to that principle. President Obama, too, would object to the comparison. He, too, values and respects the rule of law – except when the health of the planet is at stake (or economic justice demands another course, or …). While I would be much more comfortable with a President Perry than I am with a President Obama, I don’t want anyone to serve as President who believes it’s okay – just every now and then – to circumvent the rule of law. A benevolent king is still a king.

traditionalguy said...

Oliginicella... We had once a 6 year hiatus in death penalty in Georgia, awaiting the Philosopher Kings latest set of restrictions.

The young starter criminals were immediately trained in the "dead men tell no tales" strategy.

Robbing the night clerk would get 10 years with a good chance of a conviction, but executing the night clerk got about the same time served if a rare conviction happened without a witness.

They are not nearly as stupid as a liberals you know.

Oligonicella said...

traditionalguy, not sure of your point as I agree with imposing the penalty on the deserving. I think we pretty much agree on this one.