Perry might have earned the title of Most Irresponsible Public Official in America based on that moment alone. Earlier this month, however, he supercharged his candidacy.
As well all know, Texans are very fond of imposing the death penalty. They are not, however, reckless, kill-crazy psychopaths. No, they insist that before a person can be considered for execution, he or she must have done something wrong. Well, it turns out that a man named Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed for the crime of arson that he supposedly committed in 1991, may have been innocent, and may have been put to death, well, wrongly. In what certainly seemed to be the least the state could do, the Texas Forensic Science Commission came together to look into possible missteps in the criminal investigation. They hired an arson expert named Craig Beyler, who in September released a report which called the original probe slipshod. Two weeks ago, the Commissionwas going to hear testimony from Beyler.
However, a funny thing happened the day before: Governor Rick “If You Won’t Secede, I’ll Get Rid of You” Perry removed three members of the commission. He replaced the chairman with a hardline conservative prosecutor, who canceled the hearing at which Beyler was to testify. The new chairman said that he first learned of his appointment when it was announced. No new meeting has been scheduled.
What’s Perry covering up? Something more than the death of an innocent man, apparently. Willingham’s defense lawyers had urged Perry to grant a stay of execution, pointing to a report by another arson expert who said
The people in Texas like their death penalty, but no one wants to see it applied with unseemly haste, and certainly nobody wants to see innocent people killed. After al, a lot of the voters think that they themselves are innocent, and none of them wants to be injected with a lethal drug, regardless of how human it amy be. That’s why even though all the gubernatorial candidates in next year’s race support execution, but none will look into a TV camera and say
I don’t think this is going to sit well with the sanctimonious voters of Texas. They might force Perry to secede from the governor’s mansion, if only so they can insert someone who will promise that it’s possible to kill people without getting blood on your hands.