Rick Perry's Clown Show

Political candidates should avoid getting defensive – as old-timers put it, any candidate who's explaining, is losing.

Political candidates should avoid getting defensive – as old-timers put it, any candidate who’s explaining, is losing.

So it’s a hoot to watch Gov. Rick “Oops” Perry try to explain away his recent felony indictment for abusing his gubernatorial power. His first ploy has been to try dodging real questions by turning the indictment into a circus.

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He literally mugged for the cameras when getting his mugshot taken. Image consultants had advised him to ditch the hornrim glasses that previous image-makers had told him to wear so he’d look smarter. Also, he wore a light blue tie, for the consultants said that color conveys trust. Of course, he always coifs his trademark hair, but they also told him to apply skin make-up to avert any sweaty look and to put cool packs on his eyes on the morning of the shot so he wouldn’t look haggard or… well, guilty. Think pleasant thoughts as the picture is snapped, they instructed, and smile – but a humble smile, not an overconfident one.

The day before his courthouse circus opened, Ringmaster Rick brought in the clowns – a whole troupe of $450-an-hour, hotshot lawyers wearing red power ties, came blustering onstage with Perry from out of a back room, as though tumbling out of a tiny clown car. Introduced as the indictee’s legal dream team, each tried to outdo the other in a slapstick show of résumés, puffing themselves up as junkyard-tough lawyers who would shred this prosecutor and his flimsy case. Meant to show how strong Perry is, the pack of lawyers only raised another question for Perry in the public mind: If the charges against you are nothing, as you keep saying, why do you need so many heavyweight, extremely-pricey lawyers?

This indictment is not a show. It’s way more serious than Perry is, and the real explaining he’ll have to do will be in a somber courthouse – under oath.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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