Wednesday, July 07, 2004
By now you have undoubtedly tumbled to Our Republican Betters' latest strategy, which is to paint vice-presidential candidate-to-be John Edwards as an ambulance chaser:
In choosing Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) as his running mate, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) has pushed the volatile issue of tort reform onto center stage in the presidential campaign, intensifying splits between consumer and business interests and lobbies . . . .Problem for Our Betters: John Edwards is only too happy to be thrown into that particular briar patch. If you don't understand why, allow Supreme Mack Daddy TBogg to take you on a brief but instructive tour of the WaPo archives:
Edwards's ties to the plaintiffs' bar have already begun to galvanize major Washington business lobbies, many of which normally avoid direct involvement in presidential elections.
At the same time, the addition of Edwards to the Kerry ticket is likely to boost political and financial support from trial lawyers and from the many consumer groups that view trial lawyers as crucial to the regulation of business.
Trial lawyers specialize in representing individuals and large classes of people charging that the actions and products of corporations, hospitals, doctors and other defendants inflicted serious harm . . . .
President Bush has repeatedly called for legislation to rein in trial lawyers, a stand the business community has backed up with cash and an army of lobbyists. Bush is seeking to limit medical malpractice cases and to put some class-action cases under less favorable federal jurisdiction.
Sandy Lakey -- whose 5-year-old daughter Valerie had three-fourths of her intestines sucked out when she sat on an unprotected wading pool drain -- said she and her husband, David, interviewed multiple lawyers, and Edwards was her clear choice. After five months at their daughter's hospital bedside, Sandy Lakey said, "He made me feel he was taking the burden off us." Equally important, the Lakeys said, was Edwards's readiness to go to trial. "The other lawyers wanted to settle, and we also preferred not to go to court," Sandy Lakey said. "The case John made was that if this did have to go to trial, he and David [Kirby, his partner] were ready."And if that story doesn't do the trick, check in with Sid Blumenthal of the Guardian, who here explains why, since Tuesday morning, Capital-Beltway-area druggists cannot seem to keep Depends brand adult diapers on the shelves:
Edwards won his biggest verdict on Valerie's behalf -- $25 million -- against the manufacturer of the pool drain cover, which had snapped off before Valerie sat on it. Edwards showed that the manufacturer knew the cover was faulty, and had quietly settled a dozen similar evisceration cases. Valerie needed 12 surgeries, and faces a lifetime of costly medical problems, including frequent infections from a catheter that pumps nutrition into her bloodstream 12 hours a day.
Bush's supra-southern strategy involves exploiting patriotism, resentment and fear. The threat, real enough, is external, and it is brandished to maintain the status quo. His compassionate conservatism is an updating of planter paternalism. But his agenda is deregulation, low taxes and hydrocarbons. His politics in the south fundamentally rests on a division between godless them and God-fearing us. Beneath that, he requires a near unanimous white vote to compensate for the near unanimous African-American vote. If more than one-quarter to one-third of the white vote goes into the Democratic coalition, depending on the state, the Republicans lose . . . .
In one of his cases, involving a girl left brain-damaged by hospital neglect, Edwards told the jury: "She speaks to you. But now she speaks to you not through a fetal heart monitor strip; she speaks to you through me." The tradition for which Edwards now takes his stand is as open to demagogues as to statesmen, but in the mouth of a statesman it can undo a demagogue.