. . . Thursday July 8, 2004

I Fought the Law and the Law Won

Anyone remember a little show called LA Law? How about a weekly drama (that I say still has a good chance of catching on) called Law and Order? What about the legal shows and the legal networks? How about every other movie ever made?

Is there really that much evidence that the American people hate lawyers so much? Yes, we’ve all got our fair share of lawyer jokes. But I really wonder if blasting John Edwards for being a trial lawyer will play all that well.

Sure, there are plenty of frivolous lawsuits going around these days. But the right to a trial is at the absolute core of our democracy. That is one of the reasons why Saddam’s spider hole didn’t double as his grave. We are a nation that truly appreciates the power of law and we’re inspired by the notion that the little guy can topple the corporation when an egregious wrong has been committed. We love the final scene in a movie when the hero makes a closing argument that gives power to the powerless.

Why are the Republicans so sure we’ll hate John Edwards because he’s a trial lawyer? What’s even more perplexing is that they seem to see an increased vulnerability because Edwards was a great lawyer.

I’ve never quite understood some of the traits that politicians choose to attack in one another. This guy is too intellectual? Say what? I want a president who is smarter than me (impossible as it seems). This guy is too rich. Huh? This is America. You’re supposed to try to get rich. This guy has achieved too much too soon. Come on. I want the guy who exceeded expectations and is the youngest partner at his firm or won a major election his first time out of the gate. I want the best and the brightest.

I’m just not that impressed by campaign themes such as:

“I did really poorly in college and my runningmate got kicked out.”

“None of my business dealings went all that well.”

“I don’t read. I’m not curious. And I never have doubts.”

“The hell with the right to a fair trial. I’m a shareholder.”

Criticizing a candidate for being smart, elite, rich, or too successful is like criticizing Ron Jeremy for having a large johnson.

And this trial lawyer angle falls into the same trap. I’m supposed to be upset that a guy represented individuals against massive corporations and won big? That’s what lawyers are supposed to do in a country of laws. Better one makes the argument in a court of law than on a duck hunting trip, no?

In fact, nearly seventy percent of those polled indicated that they were cool with Edwards former gig. While 14% said they’d be likely to vote against him because of it, the same number said they’d vote for him because of his trial lawyer experience. And people have heard a whole lot of negative spinning about trial lawyers and very little about the specifics of Edwards impressive track record.

And I’m confident, after witnessing the unprecedented litigiousness hurled onto the Clinton administration, that most Republicans are pretty thrilled by investigators and trial lawyers themselves.

The lawyer angle is a major part of the opening argument by those running the Bush campaign. I highly doubt it will even be mentioned when it comes time for closing arguments in this case.

Concentration is important!