Former prosecutor Andrew McCarthy enlightens National Review Online readers about the significance of the recent indictment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

It has come to this after six years of Barack Obama’s Chicago-style community-organizer governance: The hard Left no longer believes it necessary to pretend that the rule of law matters. It is politics as combat. The devolution can be measured from the trumped-up indictment of Tom DeLay to the trumped-up indictment of Rick Perry.

Back in 2005, the idea of exploiting prosecutorial power to criminalize one’s political opposition was still sufficiently noxious that Democrat apparatchiks in Austin understood the need for camouflage. …

… The Republican governor of Texas was indicted last week on two felony counts of . . . wait for it . . . acting as a chief executive and opposing Democrats.

Under Texas law, Perry has incontestable constitutional authority to veto legislation — he doesn’t need a reason. But in this instance, he had abundant reason. Quite apart from the pernicious, politicized law enforcement for which the Travis County district attorney’s office is notorious, Rosemary Lehmberg, the district attorney, was arrested last year for drunken driving. Though she is hardly fit to run a public corruption unit, Democrats in the Texas state legislature nevertheless pushed through a $7.5 million appropriation. Perry responded with an ultimatum: Either Lehmberg would tender her resignation, or he would veto the funds.

Mind you, if Perry had said nothing and simply vetoed the measure, no one would have a plausible objection. Instead, he reasonably explained his position and indicated that Austin could have the money if the compromised district attorney stepped down. But somehow, in the telling of Austin’s partisan prosecutors, such a veto is no longer a political exercise; it’s felony extortion for which Perry could be sentenced to decades in prison.

The Founders gave us a republican democracy which, at the federal and state levels, divides authority among the political branches and assumes — indeed, demands — that the branches flex the muscles they’ve been given to check each other’s excesses. The competition plays out at the ballot box, not in the courts — much less the criminal courts. Perry’s veto, to block funding for a prosecutor’s office with a checkered record and an unfit leader, is plainly what the founders contemplated: an exercise of legitimate political authority to rein in the excesses of a competing branch. Yet, the politicized Austin prosecutors depict it not as normal political give and take; they frame Perry as if he were a mafia don.