Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott should have learned by now that running for governor requires far more caution and cunning than suing the federal government. He's already stumbled twice since mid-August, first when he took the mind-melting step of joining forces with the Obama administration in a lawsuit to block the American Airlines-U.S. Airways merger, then when he Twitter-thanked a guy for calling potential opponent Wendy Davis "Retard Barbie."
Neither of those things seems likely to do much lasting damage to his campaign. What he did today just might.
Abbott just released his official legal opinion in the case of Belle, Titus County's most famous 16-year-old dachshund. For years, the now-infirm dog has accompanied Titus County Attorney John Mark Cobern to work, but his argument that the setup was necessary for safety reasons (he cites his work with violent criminals and their propensity to "extreme acts of violence such as mass shootings") failed to convince Titus County commissioners, who voted 4-1 to ban all animals from the county courthouse.
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And so, back in March, Cobern turned to Abbott for help, asking the attorney general to issue a formal opinion declaring that commissioners had no authority to ban animals from the office of an independently elected county official. Abbott refused, siding instead with commissioners.
Maybe that's Abbott's honest interpretation of the law. Maybe he was afraid of losing the all-important rural northeast Texas vote. Still, you'd think a man of Abbott's experience would be wise enough to avoid a politically lethal alliance with the anti-16-year-old-dachshund camp.
You can almost hear the Wendy Davis attack ad now: "Greg Abbott: Bad for Belle. Bad for Texas."