The Grand Old Partisan of Illinois

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Lawyer jokes are funny, but don't make for a platform

Okay, maybe one of my Democrat/liberal/progressive friends can help me out here.

Based on Tammy Duckworth’s incessant usage of “personal injury attorney” as a derogatory description of her opponent, I assume she must have passionate feelings about the issue of tort reform. I just can’t seem to find out what they are. I looked all over her website, and I don’t see one mention of it.

Now, over on Roskam’s site, I found a Daily Herald article that says she “is against limits on so-called non-economic damages for pain and suffering in medical lawsuits.” Okay - fair enough. There is a compelling case to be made that capping damages isn’t the ideal or most effective way to deal with our broken tort system. So where is Duckworth’s alternative?

Well, according to her campaign manager, Jon Carson, “the real problem in the system is frivolous lawsuits like those that Peter Roskam solicits in his Yellow Pages ads. We need to look for ways to stop these lawsuits on the front end, maybe by setting standards for the advertising."

I don’t mean to be blunt, but this is a really stupid idea based on a really stupid premise. When was the last time anyone sat down and skimmed the yellow pages without already knowing what they were looking for? The people who are seeing these ads are people who are already intent on filing a lawsuit! Sure, doing something about the advertising (either in the yellow pages or tv & radio) may hinder the filing of frivolous lawsuits, but won’t it also make it that much harder for those who deserve these unlimited non-economic damages for their pain and suffering to file a legitimate lawsuit? Don't get me wrong - I agree frivolous lawsuits are a problem. But what we need is tort reform, not advertising reform.

I don’t blame Duckworth for trying. She has an open opportunity to paint her opponent as being a benefactor of a serious problem facing this country. But that attack rings hollow when you realize that she has no serious solution for that problem herself, while the “benefactor” has supported measures that would reduce his benefit.

UPDATE: skeeter just reminded me of another good point. Duckworth also identifies Roskam as a “career politician” in the same derogatory manner. This might lead one to believe that she doesn’t plan on becoming one herself, right? So - has she taken a term limit pledge that I don’t know about? Has she promised not to pursue higher office one day? If not, how am I to know that this attack isn’t potentially hypocritical since there is nothing to counter the assumption that this is the start of her second “career?”

ICIRR: "Denounce what we just said!"

Sun Times headline:

Group: GOP mailer likens immigrants to 'disease'

Wow, that’s eye catching, isn’t it?

The story, by Scott Fornek, opens:

A pro-immigrant group Wednesday called on Republican congressional hopeful Peter Roskam "to publicly denounce and repudiate" a GOP mailer that the group charges treats immigrants as "some type of disease."

Geez, after reading that headline and first paragraph, even I started to think, ‘maybe the NRCC went too far this time. That was pretty bad.’

But, wait!

I remember that our good friend, the So-Called Austin Mayor, has a copy of the controversial mailer on his blog. I've read it three times since I got to the office. I don’t see the word “disease” on it anywhere. Do you?

Interesting. Wonder why Fornek fails to mention that. I mean, he does relate a quote from an NRCC spokesperson saying that "They (the ICIRR) are trying to play politics by mischaracterizing what the mail piece actually says." Maybe that would have been a nice place for Scott to insert some background on just what the piece does say, which, whether you agree with the "path to citizenship" proposal or not, hardly likens anyone or anything to a disease.

Now, many of us in the blogosphere love to play the “why-haven’t-you-repudiated-or-distanced-yourself-from-that” game. But, really, this is a whole different game. This is the ICIRR – with the assistance of a sloppy journalist and headline writer – essentially trying to bully Roskam into repudiating and distancing himself from a quote that they just invented.

As a fan of spin and manipulation, I say to ICIRR: Bravo!

As a Republican supporter of Roskam, I say to ICIRR and the Sun-Times: Are you freaking kidding me?!?

UPDATE: It was brought to my attention by “Bridget” that the mailers in question may be these here. I took a look. Still not even a remote reference to illegal immigrants as “a disease.” So, my point still stands.

Also posted, with comments, at Illinoize