The level of political discourse in this campaign is about as bad as I have ever seen it. Take today’s communication from the Perry campaign: Today is Day 171 of liberal trial lawyer Bill White refusing to debate. He also continues to refuse to release his taxes from his years in public service. How is Bill White “refusing to debate?” I suppose the Perry camp would say, well, we said we wouldn’t debate unless he releases his taxes. So White is “refusing” to debate by not releasing all his tax returns. How does that make sense? Of course, as any campaign neophyte would know, White should have just released all his tax returns. He handed the Perry campaign a talking point. The other recent development in the campaign has been the newspaper ads describing Rick Perry as a “coward” for refusing to debate. These were a big mistake. You just don’t call people a coward in our Texas culture. Perry has his share of shortcomings, but it would never occur to me to call him a coward. Them’s fightin’ words. This is the risk of independent expenditures: the campaign that is supposed to benefit from them can’t control the content of the attack unless it coordinates with the independent group–but coordination is illegal. I will be surprised if the attacks don’t raise White’s negatives. White is still within single digits of Perry. That isn’t too bad a position to be in, considering the political climate for Democrats in this state, and the amount of time remaining in the race. White has taken a lot of shots from Perry, many of them unfounded (such as “hurricane profiteering”). He hasn’t gotten a lot of traction, but neither has he fallen off the radar screen. White came into this race with a good image. He should tell the trial lawyers who are attacking Perry to shut it down.