AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Rick Perry faked an eye condition in order to obtain prescription eyeglasses, according to an indictment made public last Friday. A Travis County board of optometrists found that, while the Republican governor’s political maneuverings may have been extremely shortsighted, his vision is at least 20-20, if not 20-16.
The mainstream media largely focused on the two felony counts handed down against the governor—for abuse of power and coercion when he attempted to force a Democratic district attorney from office using a veto threat. It may be difficult to convict Texas’ longest-serving governor on these charges, however, as his line-item veto powers are largely unimpeachable.
The case that Perry forged a prescription for eyeglasses to cut a more scholarly image appears much stronger, according to political analysts. The governor’s opponents see opportunity in taking him down a notch as he finishes out his 14-years in office while continuing to explore a presidential bid.
Perry made no apologies for his actions at a weekend press conference, during which he vowed to finish out his term and fight the charges.
Making a show of removing his horn-rimmed spectacles dramatically and squinting to read his statement off a teleprompter, the governor said, “It is outrageous that someone would use political theatrics to rip away at the very fabric of our state’s constitution.”
Thomas Harker, a professor of political science at Texas A&M, noted that Perry is the first Texas governor since 1917 to face criminal charges. Then-governor James E. “Pa” Ferguson vetoed the state’s entire contribution to the University of Texas over a personnel issue; the impeachment vote that followed compelled Ferguson to resign.
“Gov. Perry needs to decide whether his state is better off like this—led by a bespectacled governor bogged down with a criminal defense—or what it could be, were he decide to ride off into the sunset, never to be heard from again,” Harker argued.
So far, Perry has refused to blink, even threatening to pull funding from the special prosecutor in charge of the investigation. “Don’t mess with the bull,” warned Perry, “or you’ll get the horns.”
His major political backers also appear to be staying put, including Warby Parker, which has donated an undisclosed sum to Perry’s political action committee, VisionPAC.