Observations on the world today.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Debunking the Edwards Critics 

I have heard three main criticisms of Kerry's choice of John Edwards for veep. They are as follows:
1- He is young and inexperienced.
2- He is Kerry's second choice after McCain.
3- He was a trial lawyer, and trial lawyers don't favor the common man.
Okay, let's look at these one at a time.

1- He is young and inexperienced.

This would be a good criticism if it were true. He is old enough under the Constitution, and that is all that matters. However, this doesn't mean that it might not dissuade some people from voting for the ticket. Okay, here is my answer to that. If you honestly feel that way, and if you also felt that way about Bush/Quayle and refused to vote for the Bush/Quayle ticket primarily for that reason, then don't vote for Kerry/Edwards. However, if you voted for Bush/Quayle or if you voted against Bush/Quayle for reasons that had nothing whatever to do with Quayle's presence on the ticket, then get over it.

Additionally, this is actually a good reason to vote for the ticket. As Orrin Hatch said of George W. Bush during the 2000 primaries, "My only problem with you, governor, is that you've only had four and going into your fifth year of governorship. . . . Frankly, I really believe that you need more experience before you become president of the United States. That's why I'm thinking of you as a vice presidential candidate."

Kerry has more experience than Bush had going into the presidency. And Edwards has about the same governing experience that Bush had in 2000. Besides Edwards is running for veep - not pres. Eight years from now, he'll be plenty ready for the big job. Besides, several former presidents had considerably less experience than Edwards, and many were younger. Believe it or not, Edwards is 50.

2- He is Kerry's second choice after McCain.

First, this is not true because Kerry never offered the position to McCain. Kerry floated the idea past McCain - same as he did with Vilsack, Gephardt, and several others, but he never offerred McCain the position.

Second, if discussing the position with him is the same as offering McCain the position, then the same can be said of Bush/Cheney. Cheney would also be Bush's second choice since Bush also asked McCain if he'd consider running as veep. So Cheney and Edwards tie on that score.

3- He was a trial lawyer, and trial lawyers don't favor the common man.

Edwards was a victim's lawyer. He was an advocate, not a defense attorney. Here is a description of his defining case:
The defining case in Edwards' legal career wrapped up that same year. In 1993, a five-year-old girl named Valerie Lakey had been playing in a Wake County, N.C., wading pool when she became caught in an uncovered drain so forcefully that the suction pulled out most of her intestines. She survived but for the rest of her life will need to be hooked up to feeding tubes for 12 hours each night. Edwards filed suit on the Lakeys' behalf against Sta-Rite Industries, the Wisconsin corporation that manufactured the drain. Attorneys describe his handling of the case as a virtuoso example of a trial layer bringing a negligent corporation to heel. Sta-Rite offered the Lakeys $100,000 to settle the case. Edwards passed. Before trial, he discovered that 12 other children had suffered similar injuries from Sta-Rite drains. The company raised its offer to $1.25 million. Two weeks into the trial, they upped the figure to $8.5 million. Edwards declined the offer and asked for their insurance policy limit of $22.5 million. The day before the trial resumed from Christmas break, Sta-Rite countered with $17.5 million. Again, Edwards said no. On January 10, 1997, lawyers from across the state packed the courtroom to hear Edwards' closing argument, "the most impressive legal performance I have ever seen," recalls Dayton. Three days later, the jury found Sta-Rite guilty and liable for $25 million in economic damages (by state law, punitive damages could have tripled that amount). The company immediately settled for $25 million, the largest verdict in state history. For their part, Edwards and Kirby earned the Association of Trial Lawyers of America's national award for public service.
Take that Aticus Finch. Not bad, John. Not bad at all. More of Edwards history with the law can be gleaned from his book, Four Trials.

Also, historically speaking, over half of all congress persons since 1780 have listed lawyer as their profession. As have several Vice Presidents and many Presidents (at least 22 of them); including Clinton, Taft and Nixon.

So - so what he's educated in the law? So what he's young and eager to learn? So what there are those who would have preferred somebody else for the job? Compared to Cheney, and taking those three points in that order, the first two points make him better suited and the last one is a bump.


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