What connection does Alabama Governor Bob Riley have to Hamlet?
Scott Horton, of Harper's, tells us today in a fascinating analysis of Riley's reaction to Tuesday's U.S. House Judiciary Committee hearing on selective prosecution.
We have noted the irrational, even disturbing, nature of Riley's attack on U.S. Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL). We tied it to the fact that Davis produced phone-record evidence showing that an affidavit from Rob Riley, Big Bob's son, was highly suspect.
But Horton goes deeper, showing that Riley's outrage probably goes back to the low poll numbers that had him in dire trouble in early 2005. The first-term governor had a voter-approval rating of 36 percent, which usually means a governor is certain not to get a second term.
But Jill Simpson's sworn testimony states that Bob Riley went to Washington at about this point to encourage the Justice Department to pursue the Don Siegelman case more aggressively. At this point, polls showed Siegelman leading his closest Democratic challenger by 30 points, so it was looking like a rematch of the 2002 election--and it was one that Big Bob was not likely to win, given he needed a "miracle" in Baldwin County to pull it out the first time.
Riley's effort apparently worked. An indictment and prosecution came, knocking Siegelman out of the race. Riley wound up steamrolling Lucy Baxley to claim a second term.
"Riley owes his second term to the indictment and prosecution of Siegelman," Horton writes.
So why is Riley attacking Artur Davis in such a nutty way, attributing words to Davis that Davis never spoke? Riley, Horton says, was having a Hamlet moment, becoming a gentleman who "dost protest too much."
And why would Riley protest too much? Probably, Horton says, because he really did go to Washington to sic the feds on Siegelman, just as Jill Simpson said he did.