Fox Host and John Fund Ask Whether Allowing Execution of Mexican National is Good Politics for Rick Perry
TPM mentioned that Rick Perry's decision on whether to delay the execution of Mexican national Humberto Leal Garcia might include some potential presidential politics if he gets in the 2012 primary race in their article this weekend, and Neil Cavuto fill-in Chris Cotter brought in The Wall Street Journal's John Fund to discuss exactly that on Fox over the weekend as well.
First for some background on the case, here's more from TPM -- Will Rick Perry Defy International Law (Again)?:
It's Rick Perry v The World. On Thursday the Texas Governor (and possible Republican presidential player) will face a stark choice: allow the execution of Mexican national Humberto Leal Garcia, or listen to high-ranking international figures and grant a last-minute delay.
Mr. Leal was arrested in 1994. He was convicted of the rape and murder of a 16 year-old girl. His defenders say this was a miscarriage of justice. They observe that the prosecution used now largely discredited forensic methods. They further claim that he is mentally disabled, had no prior criminal record, and was represented by seemingly incompetent lawyers.
So far there's nothing here to lift this to international attention. And yet, in recent days calls for Gov. Perry to delay the execution have come from U.N. officials as high up as Navi Pillay, the world body's highest defender of human rights. Indeed, the Obama administration has even weighed in, saying the decision to execute Mr. Leal would cause "serious repercussions" and even "irreparable harm" to US foreign relations.
Here's the way Cotter opened up the discussion with Frum who seemed pretty crassly delighted that Gov. Perry might have the chance to make political hay of this should he decide to jump into the 2012 Republican presidential primary.
COTTER: Well execution on, Rick Perry in? This drama coming at a time many expect Texas Gov. Rick Perry to jump into the presidential race. And the American Spectator's John Fund says the timing couldn't be better. In the end John, will Gov. Perry hold firm against all of this mounting international pressure?
FUND: Oh, you betcha. This is obvious. Look, Texas has a long tradition of using the death penalty for heinous crimes and in this case it's not even close. You have the United Nations weighing in. You have the Obama administration weighing in. Do you think this would play well in a Republican primary? I think so.
And of course, what would any discussion that involved the United Nations be on Fox without bringing on the man who said it would be acceptable to lop off the first ten plus floors of the U.N., and former recess appointment who would never have held that position otherwise than John Bolton? Fox should have had to have looked pretty hard to find a bigger couple of hacks to come on and demagogue this issue but apparently they were both free over the Fourth of July weekend. Bolton joined the show just prior to Fund's appearance and more on that below the fold.
As the article in TPM noted, here's why this case has drawn the attention of the international community.
There is one detail in the case that elevates it to this level: Mr. Leal was born in Mexico. His family moved to the States when he was two. Though he graduated from a San Antonio high school, he never obtained citizenship. Consequently, though raised in Texas, he is still officially a citizen of Mexico.
This means, technically, that when he was arrested and his circumstances became apparent, he should have been told that he could seek help from the Mexican consulate in the US. The right to consular assistance for foreign nationals charged in another country is enshrined in a treaty the U.S. ratified in 1969.
Mr. Leal's defenders say had he known this before the trial then consular officials might have secured him more competent attorneys, who could have swung the case the other way.
Certainly, that's how the Mexican government sees things. In 2004 they took the case - along with those of 50 other Mexican nationals in U.S. jails under similar circumstances - to the International Court of Justice. The court found in Mexico's favor and in effect asked for all these cases to be given judicial reviews.
The Bush administration recognized the court's jurisdiction in this matter, and the president signed an Executive Order requesting that American states affected by the ruling comply. Texan authorities have openly flouted this, saying Texas has signed no agreement with the international court, and there is no federal legislation explicitly demanding they abide by its decisions. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) recently introduced just such a bill into the Senate, but it is still winding its way through the usual tortuous path.
Absent that legislation, both federal and Texan officials say there is nothing to block Mr. Leal's execution on Thursday. Hence the sudden surge of calls in recent days asking that Gov. Perry grant a delay, anticipating an eventual judicial review.
So even Bolton's former boss disagreed with Texas on the matter, something Bolton conveniently forgot to mention while he was trashing the U.N. and the Obama administration during his segment. TPM wrapped up their post, which I hope everyone reads all of on a note that even John Fund would probably agree with.
So, things look fairly bleak for Mr. Leal. Indeed, one might say that if Perry does delay the execution, thus bowing to international pressure, it could be the clearest sign yet that he's not running for president.