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?”


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