So now that the rumors of his infidelity and impending divorce have been discredited and mostly disappeared from the discourse, Governor Perry has gone to the effort of calling in the Statesman to work up a high dudgeon and deny everything, while simultaneously trashing the state Democrats and the Burnt Orange Report for speaking about those rumors. And you know, even though politics is a very dirty business, and even though Perry was a full participant in an extremely nasty campaign in 2002, a campaign that included an allegation by the Perry camp that Tony Sanchez was directly responsible for the death of a DEA agent in Mexico, I was almost on the verge of feeling a twinge of sympathy for him. But then I read this from the Quorum Report.
What a fascinating turn of events today.
After months of the Governor's office trying to keep the lid on trashmouth rumors, they came out swinging. Governor Perry granted a full-tilt above the fold style interview in this morning's Austin American Statesman.
Shortly afterwards, First Lady Anita Perry issued a statement (Word doc).
Then Press Secretary Kathy Walt issued a statement (Word doc) castigating Democrats for rumor-mongering. Within minutes, Republican Party Chair Tina Benkiser issued her own statement (Word doc) blistering her Democratic counterpart for spreading the rumors at political events.
But what is remarkably curious about the turn of events is the change of attitude in the Governor's office just as the rumor seems to have disappeared.
For well over a month, the Governor's office had acted to suppress the story, relying on journalist's disdain for airing sordid and unverifiable rumors.
Last week, we posted, "Enough is Enough" which was widely read and distributed in the political community.
The Governor's press office told us that the day after the Thursday posting was the first time in weeks that they did not have to field a single call on the rumor. And press interest has been all but non-existent since then.
So why revive it and come out guns blazing on Friday, just in time to feed the Sunday editions after the story had all but disappeared.
And ironically, why start their own rumors that it was a conspiracy driven by Democrats to defame the Governor. At one point, the people around the Governor were pointing fingers at other Republican officeholders as sources. Our experience here at QR was that Republicans were at least as guilty of driving the rumors as were Democrats.
So, without putting any evidence on the table, the Governor's office has revived a near moribund rumor to drive a rumor in the form of an accusation.
Maybe it was to divert attention from the drop in his numbers as measured by the Texas Poll to be released tomorrow.
Just a guess on our part, but we would not be surprised to see the next iteration of this melodrama tying the unsubstantiated charge of a "partisan smear by Democrats" with what Republicans allege is the "partisan witchhunt" of the Democratic Travis County District Attorney.
Here is Charles Soechting's response to Perry's attack on him. Here is more on Tina Benkiser's petition to disembowel Ronnie Earle. And here, from the Quorum Report, is the news about Perry's precipitous poll drop:
This weekend, the Texas Poll will report that Governor Rick Perry's approval rating has dropped 29 points since 2001. He now has a 40% approval rating and a 50% disapproval rating.
We checked it out after recieving a statement from the Governor's press office.
"Governor Perry governs by principle, not polls. Governor Perry has demonstrated leadership by tackling tough issues like solving budgetary problems without raising taxes, creating jobs and expanding the economy, and improving our children’s education. The governor will continue to make tough decisions that are in the best interest of all Texans, regardless of polls."