As this article from the San Antonio Express-News suggests, Rick Perry wasn’t responsible for channelling federal funds toTom Coleman and the Panhandle Regional Narcotics Trafficking Task Force. That was the work of Governor George W. Bush. As president, Mr. Bush learned from his mistake and worked hard to diminish the Byrne Grant Program. Unfortunately, Democrats have done more to demagogue the drug war (and the counterproductive largesse it spawns) than Republicans. Barack Obama appears to be upholding that dismal tradition.
As the article notes, Rick Perry recently made dark threats about pulling the Lone Star State out of the Union (while currying favor with Neo-Confederate secessionists with dog whistle digs at the federal government). The Governor then backed up the tough talk by turning down $550 million in federal unemployment compensation funds.
Now Mr. Perry is busy ingratiating himself with a wide variety of law enforcement entities by selectively doling out $90 million from Obama’s newly-expanded Byrne Grant program. Unlike the unemployed, police officers vote. Law enforcement is one big government program that still enjoys broad support among conservatives.
Selective socialism pays off big at election time.
Kay Bailey Hutchison, Perry’s Republican rival for Governor, is charging Perry with hypocrisy, but I doubt she has the courage to critique the Byrne program. Here’s the sad thing: Barack Obama, a big fan of HBO’s The Wire, knows the war on drugs is a pork barrell policy failure but every Democratic president needs to pad his tuff-on-crime credentials. Sausage-making ain’t pretty.