It's been the Big Question in the 10th District race to replace Bill Delahunt in Congress: would one of the strip-search victims come forward to talk about it? Today, the question was answered.
In one sense, this doesn't change what has been clear for a very long time: very bad things were done right in front of Perry's nose; his behavior in response to that appears to have been reprehensible; and he has denied wrongdoing while seeming utterly incapable of telling a straight, consistent story to explain it all.
But of course this does change everything. For as much as this story has been around and about and reported and discussed, it's never fully permeated -- I've been told that even fairly recently, polling showed that a significant percentage of voters in the district had never heard of the strip-search story. That awareness has probably increased, thanks to DCCC advertising about it, but people tend to tune out a lot of that partisan messaging. This victim statement, however, throws the whole thing into public view -- and Perry will now be forced to explain his previous statements that now appear to be calling the victim a liar.
There was a time, during the primary, when the Globe did some brutal reporting on Perry. That came after some big-time Republicans -- including Mitt Romney and Scott Brown -- had already enthusiastically endorsed Perry. They had to make a choice: back away from Perry, which doesn't look so good; or stand by him and try to drag him across the finish line.
They chose the latter course -- and by standing by Perry, they signalled that all this strip-search stuff was overblown. That played a big role in Perry surviving, winning the primary, and running neck-and-neck with Bill Keating.
And it's a fair guess that the very real possibility of Perry winning is exactly what finally made the victim come forward.
So now, those same folks who helped drag Perry to this point are exactly where they don't want to be -- standing by a scoundrel who they continued to support long after it was clear that he was a scoundrel.
It will be interesting to see how Brown and Romney -- and many other less prominent Republicans -- respond to this. I doubt they walk away from Perry now. We'll see.