If You Can't Beat Them, Indict Them
The character of Frank Underwood, played magnificently by Kevin Spacey in ‘House of Cards’, represents the kind of politician you love to hate. He is a strange combination of ruthlessness and charm; amorality mixed with a façade of likability.
Winston Churchill is credited with the line: “Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.”
Frank Underwood has that political savvy. He is also the kind of person that, given a choice, you want fighting for you rather than against you.
Politics has always been a nasty business, not for the faint of heart; dirty tricks, prevarications, deceptions, slanderous comments and a ‘take no prisoners’ attitude being the modus operandi. Both parties have long participated in such shenanigans; they then feign innocence when accused while simultaneously decrying such tactics. Hypocrisy is the norm, believability to 51 per cent the goal, to hell with the 49 per cent.
No doubt this has been a major contributory factor for many who despise politics as well as politicians. And who can blame them?
Historically such efforts were limited to the campaigns, which now though are virtually endless. In recent years we have seen a new development within the political realm: using Grand Jury indictments (or similar procedures) to taint an opponent. Guilt or innocence does not matter, as low-information voters will see the headline and ignore the facts. The real purpose is not to punish the guilty; it is to end the careers of opponents by any means necessary. This is exactly why the tactic is both effective and reprehensible.
Frank Underwood would be proud.
One case in point would be a particularly vile character in Texas: former Travis County Prosecutor Ronnie Earle.
Mr. Earle took it upon himself to go after several people, including: Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, State Representative Mike Martin, Texas Attorney General Jim Mattox, and Speaker of the House Tom Delay.
His record is spotty at best, but he has succeeded in ending the careers of many of those whom he opposes, Tom Delay included.
The Delay persecution was a classic case of retribution and vindictiveness. Earle’s ‘campaign’ against Speaker Delay began in 2002 and ended in 2007. In between, Earle went to eight Grand Juries, all in the ultra-liberal stronghold of Austin, before he found one gullible enough to issue an indictment on specious grounds.
Delay’s resignation, due to Congressional rules, confirmed that Earle’s mission was accomplished. Later the Speaker was acquitted by judicial decree. The court of appeals decision stated in part:
“.the evidence shows that the defendants were attempting to comply with the Election Code limitations on corporate contributions."
Justice was never the purpose of the persecution. Those who take a schadenfruedistic pleasure from Earle’s actions represent a small but vocal cadre of ideologues who will stoop to anything to destroy opponents.
Fairness and rules do not enter into the equation for such people.
These same reprobates may also be celebrating the recent indictment of Texas Governor Rick Perry by Earle’s successor: Rosemary Lehmberg.
Governor Perry’s own shortcomings ended his presidential aspirations. Rosemary may have sealed his fate for future higher aspirations, though her behavior may very well backfire, as it should.
Some background on the case is warranted.
In 2013, Lehmberg pled guilty to a DU.; Her blood alcohol content was measured at .229. To put that in perspective, that is three times the legal limit and is the approximate equivalent of consuming nine to ten shots of vodka (her beverage of choice) in an hour.
Fox News reported that in a 15-month period Ms. Lehman spent $3,000 on 72 bottles of Vodka. One thing that tells us is Ms. Lehman was not buying the cheap stuff as that works out to over $40.00 a bottle. Then again, the size of the bottle is not given, so maybe she was drinking the cheap stuff.
The governor, not wanting a possible alcoholic representing the good and bad people of Texas, asked her to resign. After she refused, the governor then legally vetoed expenditures designated for a division of her office for which she was responsible. That was when the claws came out, and the slovenly drunk (The video of District Attorney Lehmberg’s booking is not a pretty sight) turned into a vicious attacker.
Perry’s chances of being elected to higher office, which were not that high to begin with, have been diminished to near zero as a result of her vindictive prosecution.
Is this really the method of determining our leaders that fair minded and reasonable people can support?
We hear from people who ask for a healing of the existing divide between the political parties. This is a fantasy and will remain such until such time that people like Ronnie Earle and Rosemary Lehmberg are strongly condemned, and not cheered as they are now.
It is not incumbent upon us as citizens to like those who hold contrarian views, but it is incumbent on us to expect that candidates will be treated equally.
People have fought and died for equal treatment under the law, yet actions as described above serve to make a mockery of our laws.
Those who remain silent are in essence showing their approval. One has to wonder: what further actions would they also approve? And the follow-up question is also warranted: would they accept such actions from their opposition?