Mitt Romney

The Third Man

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Michael Crowley of the New Republic has read Bob Shrum's memoir, and the tear-stained reflections of the man who blew eight presidential campaigns are chock-a-block with dirt on John Edwards. Short version: He's a lightweight. Long version: If you tied cement blocks to his ankles and gave him a medicine ball to carry, then chucked him off one of the Petronas Towers, dude would float.

Shrum went on advising Edwards for several years, including as Edwards was contemplating his vote on the fall 2002 Iraq war resolution. In the one passage of the book already widely leaked, Shrum recounts how he and other political advisers pushed Edwards into a vote for the resolution that Edwards–and, even more so, his wife, Elizabeth–didn't want to cast. The episode didn't make Shrum look great. But the real damage is to Edwards, who comes across as a cipher taking orders from his handlers. As Shrum puts it: "[H]e was the candidate and if he was really against the war it was up to him to stand his ground. He didn't."

Something that wasn't widely leaked:

Kerry had qualms about Edwards from the start, Shrum writes, but grew "even queasier about Edwards after they met. Edwards had told Kerry he was going to share a story with him that he'd never told anyone else–that after his son Wade had been killed, he climbed onto the slab at the funeral home, laid there and hugged his body, and promised that he'd do all he could to make life better for people, to live up to Wade's ideals of service. Kerry was stunned, not moved, because, as he told me later, Edwards had recounted the exact story to him, almost in the exact same words, a year or two before–and with the same preface, that he'd never shared the memory with anyone else. Kerry said he found it chilling, and he decided he couldn't pick Edwards unless he met with him again."

Edwards is leading in Iowa, as is Mitt Romney on the GOP side (Wayne Allyn Root might be leading on the Libertarian side for all I know), so there's a trend: the guys tipped to win the first presidential contests are the ones best-known for their mall model looks and calvalcade of flip-flops. If there's a difference it's in the sanctimony Edwards brings to his changes of heart. Check out the first passage Crowley quotes, then check out Edwards' statement telling Democrats what to do about funding the war.

Jeff Taylor had some fun with Edwards' Playstation 3 crisis back in November—his original poor-little-rich-populist scandal, before the haircut.

NEXT: Garbage In, Garbage Out

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  1. NOTA folks, None of the Above. That’s who you should vote for. We need a president like a fish needs a bicycle. 😉

  2. The Petronas Towers? Why do we have to go all the way to Malaysia to toss Edwards off of a rooftop? How about the Sears Tower?

  3. Bob Shrum is a professional loser.

    I cannot understand why candidates listened to him.

  4. joe,

    Shrum has done well in non-Presidential races (or at least the candidates that he has been involved with have done well).

  5. Edwards had told Kerry he was going to share a story with him that he’d never told anyone else–that after his son Wade had been killed, he climbed onto the slab at the funeral home, laid there and hugged his body, and promised that he’d do all he could to make life better for people, to live up to Wade’s ideals of service. Kerry was stunned, not moved, because, as he told me later, Edwards had recounted the exact story to him, almost in the exact same words, a year or two before–and with the same preface, that he’d never shared the memory with anyone else.

    Why did I laugh at this?

  6. The first anecdote is pretty rich coming from Shrum, considering that Edwards’s instincts were right in the first place and Shrum is basically damning Edwards for listening to his advice. The second anecdote I don’t much care about at all. So personally the man’s a phony; big deal. So’s every politician on the planet. What matters is what they’re going to do once they’re in office. As far as that goes I don’t expect Edwards’s lefty economic views – which he’s hardly flip-flopped on over the last several years – to win him any friends at Reason. But sniping at him for being – gasp! – inauthentic merely reveals your own naivete.

  7. You know, Grotius, I can believe that.

    Bob Shrum can probably do a good job telling you how to sell yourself as Senator Pothole, who will give all the children uniforms for their school music classes.

    But that’s how he tries to sell potential Commanders in Chief, and that’s not what people want in president.

  8. Edwards polls okay because people think he’s John Edward, psychic medium and speaker to the dead.

  9. Pro Libertate,

    You’ve won the thread. Here’s your prize.

  10. That is the first thing I heard that made me sorta wish I chose Kerry over Cobb.

  11. Thank you, Grotius. I’d like to thank Urkobold, my mentor, and all the technical support staff at Hit & Run.

    Here’s my thank you gift.

  12. Iron Lungfish,

    For whatever reason, Reason has it in for John Edwards – and I say this as someone who has him pretty far down on my list. I don’t know if it’s because of the specificity of his health care plan, or because he deploys language which kinda sorta reminds them of something a union member might say, but they go after him a lot more than Clinton or Obama – he’s right up there with Gore, who can never be forgiven for being right about global warming too early, and effective at swinging public opinion.

    The “inauthentic” bit is a just the excuse of the day. They’re not going after John Edwards because he’s inauthentic; they’re calling him inauthentic because they’re going after him.

  13. “Why did I laugh at this?”

    Because it’s funny?

  14. Pro Libertate,

    I always liked the old guys in the private box.

  15. joe,

    I can’t speak for Reason, but I have a similar reaction. He’s not the candidate that I dislike the most; he’s just the most Quayle-like. Low substance, lots of bull. About what you’d expect from a sleazy plaintiffs’ lawyer. For the people.

  16. What did the Swiss give us? Cuckoo clocks.

  17. For whatever reason, Reason has it in for . . . effective at swinging public opinion.

    Joe, I have a question you might have an answer to —

    Sometimes I hear about the pre-Editor Gillespie, Virginia Postrel era of Reason, but the comments about this bygone era are always a bit cryptic to me. Did the publication act like this way back then, or is this a recenter development?

  18. “he’s right up there with Gore, who can never be forgiven for being right about global warming too early, and effective at swinging public opinion.”

    Joe, I think you’re getting Reason and National Review mixed up again.

    Reason’s coverage of Al Gore has been quite reasonable. I used to despise the guy, but due to some of what’s been written in Reason about him, I’ve come to have a smidge of respect for him.

    (Though admitting the above does cause me to throw up in my mouth a little bit.)

    As for Edwards, well, look at the guy: he’s laughably easy to punk on. Whether its the fact that he’s a trial lawyer, that he’s a flagrant BMW Bolshevik, or that he’s such a fussy little prima donna, you have to admit he’s low hanging fruit for anonymous snarksters on this here intarboob.

  19. Considering Bob Shrum’s track record, you’d think he’d have the sense to keep his mouth shut and hope that he could find a yak-herding position in Upper Mongolia.

    The continued love the DLC has for Shrum is one of the mysteries of the universe.

    The older I get, the more I’m coming to believe that anyone intelligent and with actual skills has the sense to go into business instead. Politics (and the support machine surrounding it) is a haven for the incompetent, the egotistical, the idealistic, and those who can’t make it in business.

  20. Chucklehead,

    Indeed, this thread has gone too long without noting that Orson Welles–rather, Harry Lime–was the third man.

    Incidentally, a new, two-DVD set of The Third Man has just been released.

  21. Pro Libertate,

    I think you may be responding more to the hair and the “Aw, shucks” act than his merits. Edwards put out the most comprehensive and detailed policy proposals of any candidate running last time. He’s definitely more of a policy geek than Kerry, Obama, Dean, or Hillary.

  22. “The older I get, the more I’m coming to believe that anyone intelligent and with actual skills has the sense to go into business instead.”

    Indeed. Most of the people who serve in public office strike me as the sort not fit to build a Gordito at Taco Bell.

  23. joe,

    My unscientific survey of my fallible memory makes me think that the Reason staff goes after Senator Clinton pretty fiercely (I seem to recall a recent post that started out with the sentiment, “You won’t be surprised to hear that Hillary wants to do something idiotic…”). As for Senator Obama, I think they are just afraid of the Obama internet support squad which will inundate the Hit and Run comments in the blink of an eye if anybody attacks him.

  24. Perhaps I am too optimistic, but the country has had 16 years of good old boy Southerners in the Whitehouse. Yeah, I know Bush is from a Connecticut family but he grew up in Texas and his whole persona is Texas. I have had enough of Southern guys for a while on both sides. I don’t think the country will vote for another one this time.

    As far as Edwards goes, he is just a sleazy Southern ambulance chaser. He is Bill Clinton without the Rhoades scholarship and without the charm. Clinton may be a sleaze bag but he would at least be an interesting guy to have dinner with. Anyone here want to say the same thing about Edwards? I don’t think so. I can’t believe he would get the nomination much less win the election.

  25. I don’t agree, joe.

  26. Because it’s funny?

    My suspicions were true…

  27. I personally disliked John Edwards before I became a libertarian (I.E, 2003-2004, when I first became aware of him). It was his trial tactics. Anyone who is willing to pretend to channel the dead in order to win an argument is no friend of mine.

    I first started paying attention to politics during Clinton’s administration, so I know how little of a President’s policy program he can often put into place. I’ve watched all through Bush’s administration, so I know how deeply a phony can lie. Because of that, I pay more attention now to the specious lies candidates have made than to their specific proposals.

    John Edwards has earned his bread by lying to the gullible, and that makes him unfit in my mind for the Presidency.

  28. I think they are just afraid of the Obama internet support squad which will inundate the Hit and Run comments in the blink of an eye if anybody attacks him.

    Sort of like Ron Paul supporters and internet polls?

  29. joe –

    It seems pretty clear to me why Reason “has it in” for Edwards. Edwards is the most pro-union and the most economically progressive of the top three Dems, and has presented his anti-poverty proposals in explicitly populist terms. That’s bound to rankle Reasonoids, even more than Clinton’s cultural panders on flag-burning and video game censorship, or her creepy love of military projection and executive power. The American libertarian movement is still primarily a creature of economics more than anything else, and so an economic lefty is going to get a lot more hate than a neoliberal who has a certain affection for invading other countries and outsourcing torture through the CIA.

    This wouldn’t bother me if Reason would just go after Edwards’s positions on the merits, but instead they singly him out as a “lightweight” and a “phony” when he’s not even the outstanding leightweight phony in the race. If you were going to single out one of the candidates as a “lightweight,” you’d pick the guy with two years in the Senate and no detailed policy positions; if you were going to single out one of the candidates as a phony, you’d pick the guy who reversed himself on every major position over the last two years just before getting into the GOP presidential race. So stop beating around the bush and get to the point: you don’t like the guy’s politics. Start talking about those and I’ll be willing to listen.

    (I have a similar complaint with liberals who keep bringing up Giuliani’s various divorces and affairs. Give me a break, people, you don’t give a crap about Giuliani slutting it up with his mistress in Gracy Mansion; you just don’t like that the man is a creepy authoritarian thug and a bit of a not-so-closeted racist. So object to him for that. But this business about “he was mean to his ex-wife” is utterly meaningless to how someone manages the presidency.)

  30. Edwards is leading in Iowa, as is Mitt Romney on the GOP side

    is this possibly because they are the two, most boring, whitest-guy candidates in the field? Fat free vanilla frozen yogurt.

  31. mediageek,

    The Democrats should create a “League of Democratic Heroes.” Sort of like the Justice League without a Seaman. 😉

  32. Clinton may be a sleaze bag but he would at least be an interesting guy to have dinner with.

    I have heard this a lot. Or “hes the guy you would want to drink a beer with”. Or whatever. Newt and etc were saying the same things about meeting with him in the White House.

    I dont get it. Story time:
    Setting: early 1992/late 1991, first “7 dwarves democratic debate”
    I watched it. My post-debate comment was “I dont know who will get the nomination, but it wont be that Clinton guy, he is scum.”

    My total knowledge of him at the time was that debate. I was stunned when he won the nomination and then the presidency. I still dont get it.

    I have no interest in having dinner with him either.

  33. Reason is tougher on Edwards than HRC & Obama? Maybe, because he seems like the sleaziest opportunist of the bunch, but…

    HRC gets a pass from Reason? Not at all. She gets it hard. (No jokes, please.)

    Obama gets off easiest? Maybe, but that’s probably because he comes off as the least sleazy and most well-meaning, even if his political philosophy is very, very far from the readers here. He seems genuine and likable. He may not be genuine, after all he is a politician, but he strikes me as the one who, if a libertarian college professor or some other influence had got to him early enough, might have had a chance to do good. As it is, he strikes a lot of people who don’t agree with him as well-meaning but misguided.
    And at the very least, he can say he was always against the Iraq War, but he’s not Kucinich. That pleases a lot of people.
    Ramble ramble.

  34. is this possibly because they are the two, most boring, whitest-guy candidates in the field?

    Neither of them could be whiter than Hillary Clinton if they tried.

  35. It is unfortunate that Andy Kaufman is dead (?). He’d be an excellent Presidential candidate.

  36. Grotius,

    You’re in on the secret, eh?

  37. Iron – gak!

    Here I thought that Gro’s video was terrible. Then ProGLib’s return (I had expected the Riesenrad scene from the Third Man) actually caused gastric distress.

    But what you, yes you, posted was the most twisted thing of all!

    Fortunately, High#’s interesting (not rambling!) words @11:01 kept sanity flowing until the treatment could take its course.

  38. highnumber,

    It would have been awesome if he had returned.

  39. RobC,

    Few people despise Clinton more than me. But, you can’t deny the guy did get a Rhodes scholarship. He is not a stupid guy no matter what you think of him. I see Edwards as just a progressive Elmer Gantry. Rather than using the bible to bed women, Edwards, as pointed out above, uses the law and smooth talking to take in the gullible and feed his seemingly insatiable greed. Edwards is every bit as shallow as Clinton but doesn’t even have the somewhat redeeming quality of high intelligence. I look at Edwards and see the same personality as Jimmy Swagert. Edwards just put his finger to the wind and figured that he could get ahead by conning juries and spouting leftist politics rather than conning the believers. Same coin just different sides.

  40. highnumber,

    I wonder if Andy had really faked his death if his form of humor would be all that well appreciated today. Imagine him doing something like what he and Michael Richards go into on Fridays.

  41. Gro,

    Boy, howdy! It would be the greatest gag ever.
    As a child, I was enthralled by his appearances on SNL and Taxi, and I was heartbroken and flabbergasted when the viewers voted him off SNL.
    There have been very few even remotely like him.

  42. John,

    Im not denying he is smart. Also, as 20th century Democratic presidents go, he was pretty good, maybe the best?

    Im just saying I wouldnt want to spend 30 seconds in the same room with the man. I just wonder about the judgement of people who get swayed by him. That includes all the GOP leadership of the mid 90s.

  43. Gro,

    Was his humor really appreciated all that much back then? It seemed like most people paid attention because they wanted to figure out the gag, but whenever they got close, he would move it further away.

  44. If you were going to single out one of the candidates as a “lightweight,” you’d pick the guy with two years in the Senate and no detailed policy positions.

    That’s not how I’d define “lightweight.” It’s not all that impressive to me that over the course of five years campaigning for president, with God knows how many advisers on every issue, Edwards has come out with (generally crappy) plans on a lot of issues. He didn’t actually do much in the Senate, whereas Obama co-sponsored a pork disclosure bill with Tom Coburn after, what 18 months in the job? When the time came to make the biggest decision of his political career, Edwards whiffed and co-sponsored Joe Lieberman’s Iraq War resolution.

    Of course it might be just that I’m inclined (as with Jim Webb) to forgive the guy who’s a brilliant writer.

  45. highnumber,

    Wasn’t that “voting” thing a gag as well?

    Yeah, he had a real conundrum quality to him.

    Oh, and for everyone’s viewing pleasure, Mr. Andy Kaufman.

  46. VM,

    Very well.

    In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed – they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.

    Of course, as you know, the Germans invented the cuckoo clock. But it’s a great line, nonetheless, and it’s all Welles, in all of his Orsomeness.

  47. Obama and HRC will battle each other over whether or not voting for the war was ok. HRC will win that battle, both the two of them will be too battered to get the nomination.

    Edwards will fill the resulting vacuum.

    He is your nominee folks, get used to it.

  48. Thanks Gro, ProGLib!

    High#: his work on Taxi was hilarious.

    Jimmy Clifton lives!

  49. Man, that might be, along with “Dr. Strangelove”, my favorite movie ever, and Welles is definitely the greatest movie villain ever in that flick. He makes Hannibal Lecter look like a piker.

  50. VM,

    I just found a non-bleeped version of the confrontation between Lawler and Kaufman on Letterman’s show. Of course it was all a stunt.

  51. His entrance was the greatest ever, too. Just think what it was like back then–the whole world knew that superstar Orson Welles was in the picture, but he hadn’t shown up yet. What the heck? And this Harry Lime guy the actors kept talking about–sounds great, too bad he’s dead.

    And lo, there’s Welles in Carol Reed’s fun shadows and strategic lighting. Orsome.

  52. Excellent, Gro! (“I’m sure you can say some of those words on television!”)

    Will Allen – what did you think of the Manchurian Candidate? Angela Landsbury’s work in that was amazing!

  53. It’s not all that impressive to me that over the course of five years campaigning for president, with God knows how many advisers on every issue, Edwards has come out with (generally crappy) plans on a lot of issues.

    This gets back to my main point. If you think Edwards’s plans are “generally crappy,” criticize him for the deficiencies of his policy positions, not for the fact that he’s a “lightweight.” Obama, on the other hand, hasn’t figured out what his plans are. Again, the term being tossed around here is “lightweight,” not “person whose policies I find disagreeable.”

    Obama co-sponsored a pork disclosure bill with Tom Coburn

    Ooh, a pork disclosure bill! And given that pork takes up an astonishing, what, fraction of a percentage of domestic spending, we can tell that Obama’s really super-serious about getting that deficit under control. Or else he knows that most Americans don’t like the sound of “pork,” don’t realize that it doesn’t actually put a dent in the larger picture of the budget, and that it sounds good for an ambitious pol to have his name on a nice bipartisan bill against “pork” without actually doing anything difficult to reduce spending.

    Of course it might be just that I’m inclined (as with Jim Webb) to forgive the guy who’s a brilliant writer.

    “Brilliant”? This is “brilliant” in the same sense that politicians can be “good-looking” by Washington standards – i.e., show business for ugly people? “Brilliant” is Italo Calvino; Obama has written a better-than-average campaign book.

  54. I’ll be much more inclined to vote for the guy or gal who avoids unctously sharing his painful personal moments with either the public or someone likely to leak it to the public. Give me Reagan’s emotional remoteness any day; it may be bad for his kids, but it is better for my gag reflex.

    I despised Gore from the moment he canterwauled on national t.v. about sissy croaking from cancer, even before the news of his longtime relationship with tobacco farming became widely known. Guess what, numbskull candidates? Nearly all of us has had somebody we love take the dirtnap, and we don’t need you tell us about your experience with a catch in your throat.

  55. Yeah, VM, I’ve got that classic on my DVR as well, and Lansbury definitely should not be overlooked. I guess why Welles wins the prize for me was because in that role he really demonstrated the sheer joy the sociopath has in being amoral. Just being evil cuz’ it’s fun, whereas Lansbury’s evil springs from an deep, deep, unquenched thirst for power and control.

  56. Obama has written a better-than-average campaign book.

    Dreams From My Father is one of the better memoirs of the past 20 years. Fields of Fire is possibly the best Vietnam novel, and Born Fighting is fine popular history.

  57. Gro,

    I’ve heard that Kaufman agreed to abide by the results of the phone poll, but everyone thought that he would not be voted off. I recall there being an actual 900# to call. As far as I know, it was all real, just not the result the producers or Kaufman expected.

  58. Short version: He’s a lightweight. Long version: If you tied cement blocks to his ankles and gave him a medicine ball to carry, then chucked him off one of the Petronas Towers, dude would float.

    Let’s just say I almost disrupted the office when I read that. 😀

  59. highnumber,

    I always figured that it was a gag. Of course figuring out what was and wasn’t a joke was one of the great things about Kaufman.

  60. Reason is tougher on Edwards than HRC & Obama?

    Well, I haven’t seen anything on Obama lately, but I’m not aware he’s done or said much worth commenting on from a libertarian POV in the last few weeks. But then, maybe I’m just blind to the fact that the almost-all-extremely-anti-Iraq-war H&R writers decided to give a pass to the pro-war Blues because Edwards sounds a hair more populist than the others.

  61. Kerry was stunned, not moved, because, as he told me later, Edwards had recounted the exact story to him, almost in the exact same words, a year or two before–and with the same preface, that he’d never shared the memory with anyone else.

    You know, in theory, it’s entirely possible that’s true. He could have only been able to divulge that to one person in the world – John Kerry – and just forgot he’d done it before.

    Kerry was just nervous about the idea of having such an absent-minded veep, that’s all.

  62. … because Edwards sounds a hair more populist than the others.

    $400 bucks more populist, anyway.

  63. “One of the things we ought to be thinking about is some level of mandatory service to our country, so that everybody in America _ not just the poor kids who get sent to war _ are serving this country…”

    Edwards in the Washington Post this morning. First, what has that jackass ever done for this country besides steel for living using gullible juries as his stick up weapon? Second, don’t even get me started on the whole “just poor people join the military” bullshit. Third, what the fuck does Edwards think makes this country great? In people like Edwards’ mind, the only people who are doing anything positive for the country are government bureaucrats running other people’s lives. The fact that this country is the greatest country in the world because every day 100s of millions of people get up and go to work in the private sector and do countless numbers of amazing things that create wealth and freedom and make the country the most livable in history never crosses Edwards’ pea brain. The working man makes this country. Edwards’ attitude that you can only make a difference working for the government is one of the most corrosive ideas to arise in the last 50 years.

  64. Since many of Urkobold’s associates seem to be active in this thread, perhaps somebody could be so good as to pass on to His High Trollishness that we have a bit of a problem in a thread at Unqualified Offerings?

    http://highclearing.com/index.php/archives/2007/05/23/6464

  65. Having actually read the TNR piece Wiegel links to, it should be noted that the second anecdote especially looks highly dubious, and that Crowley’s conclusion appears to be that Shrum and Kerry basically teamed up to stick a shiv in Edwards. Given that Kerry was considering a presidential bid up until a few months ago, and that Shrum makes Kerry out to be the hero of the ’04 race, I’m thinking Shrum wrote the book under the assumption he’d be working for a Kerry ’08 campaign and took the opportunity to stab a rival.

  66. I hate med mal lawyers. Bad outcomes aren’t always because of bad medicine and a lot of judgements are based on emotions. When these lawyers have multi-million dollar paydays based on junk science, they bankrupt businesses and never have to pay back their “earnings”.

    I might be just a wee bit biased though.

  67. What gets me about Edwards is that he’s quick to spend his own money on himself (mansion, cars, etc) but not on others. Yet he’s quite willing to spend others money on things he deams important.

  68. ASK, AND YE SHALL RECEIVE AN AMPLE HEAPING OF ABUSE FOR SO ASKING. OR NOT.

    URKOBOLD’S MINIONS “MASHED UP” SANFORD AND SON AND DUNE TODAY. URKOBOLD SEES SIMILAR POTENTIAL WITH THAT WOMAN WITH STRANGE SEX HABITS’ 10,000 PAGE BOOK (URKOBOLD ONLY READS THE SPEECHES) AND MR. SANFORD’S SHOW.

    URKOBOLD IS COMING TO YOU, ELIZABETH! THIS IS THE BIG ONE!

  69. Given that Kerry was considering a presidential bid up until a few months ago,

    What, he thought Team Red was going to dredge up an even weaker candidate than GWB?

  70. I don’t know – I’m inclined to vote for Edwards because he looks like Dennis Quaid in “Breaking Away”.

  71. Urkobold hit a few times there. You got a weak one, thoreau. It has been determined to be a waste of time. Small fish have to get thrown back.

  72. Libertarians love the idea of using the courts, rather than regulation, to address harms.

    Right up until somebody actually uses the courts that way.

  73. Fair point, joe. I, for one, don’t have a problem with trial lawyers, but many people, libertarians, conservatives, moderates, and even some liberals do, until they need their services.

  74. Libertarians love the idea of using the courts, rather than regulation, to address harms.

    Right up until somebody actually uses the courts that way.

    I admit my bias- hubby is a doc. But damn, when there are class action suits over a case of diarrhea, the world has gone batshit crazy.

  75. THE URKOBOLD REFUSES TO APOLOGIZE FOR THE SECOND AND THIRD PARAGRAPHS OF HIS PRIOR POSTING. IF HE WERE TO NOTE THAT SUCH POSTING MIGHT HAVE BEEN BETTER MADE ELSEWHERE, HE WOULD BLAME ALL THE SHRUMS AROUND HERE, MAN.

  76. Oh, there is no doubt that one either needs a regulatory system or a tort system to capture externalities and punish fraud. That’s no reason, however, to refrain from excoriating somebody who uses the tort system to enrich himself by making scientifically fraudulent claims in front of ignorant juries, like Edwards has, in regards to the causes of cerebal palsy, in particular.

    I think the state needs to provide a police force, but that doesn’t mean I have to refrain from excopriating those who knowingly work to convict innocent people.

  77. Right up until somebody actually uses the courts that way.

    That is a corporatarian thing, not a libertarian thing. Easy to confuse the two in these days of viral spread of subsidy. True libertarians do not have a hoard of money to give away. They cannot pay handsome salaries. They do not entertain lavishly or bestow costly gifts, but they overflow with the gold of sincere friendliness, and get in return a self-satisfaction, an influence, and a power with people that all the money in the mint could not buy.

  78. This post is filled with right-wing code implying Edwards is an “immoral homosexual”…

  79. joe,

    I object to that characterization. I don’t oppose people using the courts in a legitimate way to recompense actual harm. I also don’t usually blame the plaintiffs themselves. . .just the greedy lawyers.

    I have friends in the personal injury business, and they constantly complain about the huge percentage of dishonest players in the plaintiffs’ bar (and these are plaintiffs’ attorneys, not defense guys, saying this). The insurance companies and their attorneys aren’t much better, of course. I’ve seen this for myself in an earlier life, and, of course, most of us have some conception of how bad things are in the civil arena these days.

    I understand your sympathy with the little-guy-versus-the-big-guy perception of civil actions, but, oftentimes, the “little guy” isn’t getting what he deserves (don’t forget the huge chunk of change plaintiffs give up to their attorneys or the pittance they sometimes get in class action suits). And Edwards is particularly evil in what he’s done–review some of his cases.

  80. I’m all for using the courts to remedy harms.

    I just don’t like some of the things our current system finds actionable, and I don’t like the way our system assigns liability, and I don’t like the way our system calculates damages.

    If the courts allowed me to sue you for a billion dollars, Joe, for harms I suffered because it hurt my feelings when you smiled on a sunny day, do you think you would like it? And if you complained about it, would it be fair for me to say, “Aw, Joe, I guess you just don’t really believe in civil courts after all, my man.”

  81. And Edwards is particularly evil in what he’s done–review some of his cases.

    Unlike George W. Bush, acting as a businessperson, in the corporate world?

    Unlike Hilary Rodham, acting as a businessperson, in the corporate world?

    I don’t think Edwards is any morally better, but I don’t think he’s morally worse, and he only gets as much crap as he does for it here (and in other corporately financed places) for being on the wrong side of the pro vs. anti corporate divide.

  82. Since my field is patents, I can speak to those a little better. Last week a patentee lost their patents because the patent lawyer did not display sufficient “candor” at the patent office.

    Here is how much “candor” is required of the patent lawyer:

    http://fedcir.gov/opinions/06-1517.pdf

    And you guys cry about SarbOx! Your ideas about big suits over hurt feelings don’t match contemporary reality in the courts at all. the reality in the trenches, at least for patent lawyers is a lot tougher than you would imagine.

    Final thought for the thread: Just because John Edwards talks to uneducated, and perhaps even stupid, juries in terms they can understand does not mean his causes are not just. he would probably speak much differently to a jury if he knew it was all Reason commenters. Nor does the fact that juries seem stupid by our standards, make their verdicts unjust. I remember Tim Cavanaugh going off on a VIOXX jury in Texas, before we all figured out the stuff was more dangerous than had been realized. We thought the OJ was stoopid for thinking that there could ever be a massively evil police coverup, but Kathryn Johnston has made some of us reflect on that too (which is not to say that OJ isn’t a murderer).

  83. Have no doubt, I was excoriating George W. Bush for his participation in the abuse of eminent domain far prior to his becoming a Presidential candidate.

  84. “the OJ was stoopid”

    should have been:

    –the OJ jury was stoopid–

  85. Libertarians love the idea of using the courts, rather than regulation, to address harms.

    Right up until somebody actually uses the courts that way.

    Can anyone play?

    “Liberals love the idea of using regulations to curb peoples’ actions.

    Right up until a liberal runs up against the regulation.”

  86. No, the fact that some juries are stupid does not condemn Edwards. Making false claims about the causes of cerebal palsy, and the responsibility of ob/gyns in regards to cerebal palsy, to stupid juries, does condemn Edwards.

  87. Dave,

    Come now, I didn’t say Edwards was the worst possible being in a world of badness. He’s just in the general class of reprehensible. I’d lob Clinton and Bush over the fence into that area as well, albeit for different reasons.

    I’m a corporate lawyer, which one might think would bias me. But I don’t think that corporations don’t deserve frequent spankings. They do. Still, the spankings need to be for legitimate reasons and for reasonable amounts (including punitives, when warranted). And it’s worth mentioning that individuals without much money are also the victims of frivolous suits–either because it takes forever to get into court due to the insane caseload or as defendants themselves.

    The system is a mess. At least it’s not like IP, though. Like Holmes or someone else of that era said, “Copyright [IP] is the metaphysics of the law.”

  88. Making false claims about the causes of cerebal palsy, and the responsibility of ob/gyns in regards to cerebal palsy

    Let me clue you in: if it were that clear he would have gotten Rule 11’d bigtime.

    Instead, you have installed a pro-corporate media filter which tells you that an arguable difference was a no-brainer. Being ultimately wrong on a contested issue is not the same as making false claims in court papers and statement.

    You are the one who has been lied to, Will Allen, and, frankly, I think you are a dupe for buying into it.

    Bill Clinton may not have been impeached. he sure as heck was disbarred. The courts may not be perfect at dealing with liars, but they merely do a better job of it than anyone else.

  89. I’d lob Clinton and Bush over the fence into that area as well, albeit for different reasons.

    I was just trying to make the point that we get the argument that Edwards duplicity in the “real world” disqualifies him for office with a frequency and to a degree that we don’t get in the case of equally bad people who happen to be on Team Insurance Defense.

  90. “Final thought for the thread: Just because John Edwards talks to uneducated, and perhaps even stupid, juries in terms they can understand does not mean his causes are not just. he would probably speak much differently to a jury if he knew it was all Reason commenters.”

    Bullshit. Edwards is a like sack of crap that did real harm. He convinced juries that children having cerebal palsy was the result of the doctors not performing c-section deliveries, which was a complete lie and Edwards knew it.

    From the American Thinker

    ” One of Edwards’ specialties was cerebral palsy cases. He would bring suit against physicians on the contention that their actions while delivering the hapless children induced the condition. The notion was that the doctors were guilty of a dereliction of duty that caused the babies to be denied adequate oxygen during the birthing process. If only these physicians had performed caesarian sections, claimed the trial lawyer set, the children never would have developed cerebral palsy. Now, these children were the perfect clients for a young, ambitious trial lawyer seeking fame and fortune: children born with among the worst of crosses to bear; children who could make virtually anyone’s heart bleed.

    But there was a problem. You see, the scientific establishment has determined quite definitely that cerebral palsy is rarely caused by doctors. In point of fact, the condition is almost always induced by a subtle infection in the womb or, perhaps, genetics. To quote Marc Morano of CNSNews.com, whose news outlet interviewed various experts in the field,

    Dr. Murray Goldstein, a neurologist and the medical director of the United Cerebral Palsy Research and Educational Foundation, said ‘The overwhelming majority of children that are born with developmental brain damage, the ob/gyn could not have done anything about it, could not have, not at this stage of what we know.’

    Additionally, Dr. John Freeman, a professor of neurology and pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md., stated,

    Most cases of cerebral palsy are not due to asphyxia . . . A great many of these cases are due to subtle infections of the child before birth.

    Freeman went on to say,

    That is the cause of the premature labor and the cause of the [brain] damage. There is little or no evidence that if you did a [caesarean] section a short time earlier you would prevent cerebral palsy.

    Moreover, this statement is borne out by the fact that even though births via caesarian section increased from six percent in the 1970’s to twenty-six percent today, the incidence of cerebral palsy hasn’t decreased one iota.

    As I mentioned before, there are also experts who believe that the condition has a basis in genetics. In either case, however, it has nothing to do with the actions of doctors. And studies indicating this fact date back to at least the 1980’s.

    This didn’t seem to matter to John Edwards, though. He forged on ahead, plying the courtrooms of America and manipulating juries, swaying them with magnificently articulated emotional appeals that were tailor-made to evoke in jurors judgment-clouding responses that would obfuscate the facts of a case. Edwards’s usual spiel would go something like his emotional appeal in the 1985 case of Jennifer Campbell, cited by The Boston Globe in 2003. According to court records, Edwards said to the jury,

    I have to tell you right now — I didn’t plan to talk about this — right now I feel her [Jennifer], I feel her presence. [Jennifer’s] inside me and she’s talking to you . . . And this is what she says to you. She says, ‘I don’t ask for your pity. What I ask for is your strength. And I don’t ask for your sympathy, but I do ask for your courage.’

    Ah, what empathy. Just what the world needs: another Southern lawyer, with grand political aspirations and the skills of a snake oil salesman, who feels our pain. That’s twice in just over a decade – will miracles never cease?

    Now, I want to make very clear what all this implies. John Edwards, while claiming to be standing up for the little guy, got rich peddling lies on the backs of the most unfortunate of children. In the process he fleeced doctors, thereby increasing their cost of practicing medicine which, in turn, drove up the cost of health care. So if you’re grumbling about how expensive medical procedures and insurance premiums are, know that tens of millions of our health dollars are in the pocket of John Edwards.

    From http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewPolitics.asp?Page=%5CPolitics%5Carchive%5C200401%5CPOL20040120a.html

    Peter Huber, a lawyer and author of the book, Galileo’s Revenge: Junk Science in the Courtroom, believes juries are typically manipulated with emotional arguments to aid the plaintiff’s case.

    “The jury sees the undisputed trauma first, the disputed negligence second, the undisputed cerebral palsy third. It is a perfect set-up for misinterpreting sequence as cause,” Huber wrote.

    According to Boisseau, the growing body of scientific studies showing that obstetricians are generally blameless in cerebral palsy cases has done nothing to alter the trend of multi-million dollar court settlements. Those settlements are reached, Boisseau said, even though “a lot of the plaintiff’s expert science is unsupported, essentially junk science.”

    Many juries never even get to hear about the medical science or the origins of cerebral palsy because “90 percent of suits for obstetrical malpractice are settled” out of court, noted Freeman of Johns Hopkins Hospital.

    Huber does not expect cerebral palsy cases to fade away, despite the growing body of scientific evidence exonerating doctors.

    “Despite the almost complete absence of scientific basis for these [medical malpractice] claims, cerebral palsy cases remain enormously attractive to lawyers,” Huber wrote.

    The judgments or settlements related to medical malpractice lawsuits that focused on brain-damaged infants with cerebral palsy helped Edwards amass a personal fortune estimated at between $12.8 and $60 million. He and his wife own three homes, each worth more than $1 million, according to Edwards’ Senate financial disclosure forms. Edwards’ old law firm reportedly kept between 25 and 40 percent of the jury awards/settlements during the time he worked there.

    According to the Center for Public Integrity, Edwards was able to win “more than $152 million” based on his involvement in 63 lawsuits alone. The legal profession recognized Edwards’ achievements by inducting him into the prestigious legal society called the Inner Circle of Advocates, which includes the nation’s top 100 lawyers. Lawyers Weekly also cited Edwards as one of America’s “Lawyers of the Year” in 1996.

    John Edwards is a shyster and a thief who caused real harm. As lawyer I would hope you would be repulsed by people like Edwards. He is just scum.

  91. JCJ3 ?=? “ak”

    WE REPORT. YOU PARROT.

  92. Insurance is a pestilence on society. I personally blame that on its heavy regulation by the states (or, perhaps better stated as its bed-sharing proclivities with state government), but, either way, insurers play some nasty, nasty games. I don’t want to stop all lawsuits or anything, and I think plenty of suits are perfectly legitimate. Many truly harmed people are forced to take low settlements or abandon suits altogether because of expensive delaying tactics, etc. Bad all around.

  93. Pro, one of the worst aspects I’ve seen in the tort system is how a person with very,very, deep pockets can have something amounting to impunity with regards to violating contracts with people or entities with shallow pockets. There is a Forbes-list billionaire that has done business with a few acquiantances of mine, and they gave nearly all come to regret the decision, because it nearly always has resulted in getting to the point where the billionaire essentially says, “Pay you? No, you sue me first, and after I turn your life upside down with my army of lawyers, we’ll see if you’ve found it worthwhile.” Everybody ends up settling for pennies on the dollar. I’ve got to think that crowded court schedules play to the billionaire’s advantage.

  94. “Moreover, this statement is borne out by the fact that even though births via caesarian section increased from six percent in the 1970’s to twenty-six percent today, the incidence of cerebral palsy hasn’t decreased one iota.”

    How many women are being butchered with unnecessary C-sections just so Edwards can pay for his 28,000 square foot house? There is a special place in hell for Edwards. He truly is scum.

  95. Indeed. Judges don’t help. They have the ability to cut short procedural games, but they usually don’t.

    I’m feeling the urge to revolt.

  96. “Many truly harmed people are forced to take low settlements or abandon suits altogether because of expensive delaying tactics, etc”

    Very true and you know who one of the worst offenders is? State and local governments who condem porperty under emmenint domain. Here is your 10 cents on the dollar for your property, if you don’t like it sue for a fair settlement and in the mean time we will be bulldozing your house for the new sports stadium.

  97. Frankly, Dave W., you are the dupe for thinking that courtrooms and judges root out all deliberate lies. Edwards has made a ton of money lying to juries about the cause of cerebal palsy. Period. You are a dupe for believing otherwise.

  98. Look, John, if it were that clear then the ob/gyn’s would have gotten summary judgment and there would be no stupid jury.

    If it was not the clear before the trial, but became that clear during the trial, then the judge could have given JMOL (or whatever the state law equivalent is).

    Clear as things might be now, there is presumably a judge and an appellate court who thought different at the time. I mean, I don’t presume to consign Ron Bailey a place in hell for being wrong about global warming, or Tim Cavanaugh such a place for being wrong about VIOXX. Science is hard, man.

    But, like I said upthd, don’t blame me: I voted Cobb / LaMarche (because they had the important things figured out BEFORE the rest of us paeans).

  99. Indeed. Judges don’t help. They have the ability to cut short procedural games, but they usually don’t.

    C’moooon, PL. You have been to law school. What percentage of civil cases go to jury trial? What does the percentage become when you take out the JMOL’s?

  100. Dave W,

    You don’t know crap about the law. The standard for summary judgment is whether there is any evidence that could possibly cause a reasonable fact finder to find for a given side. That is it. That means all you need is one affadavit from one hack doctor or “scientist” and you are before the jury. No matter what the mainstream science says. Further, scum like Edwards look for weak pro plaintiff judges like lions look for sick wildebeasts. They file their cases in counties where they know the juries and judges are pro plaintiff and will let crap get past summary judgement. Once you have a finding of fact, it is virtually impossible to overturn it.

  101. “You have been to law school. What percentage of civil cases go to jury trial?”

    Why is that? Because defendents are terrifed of going before a jury. All it takes is one BS huge judgement and the rest of the defendents start settling regardless of the merits of the cases.

  102. Cart before the horse. Why do cases settle so frequently?

  103. The standard for summary judgment is whether there is any evidence that could possibly cause a reasonable fact finder to find for a given side. That is it. That means all you need is one affadavit from one hack doctor or “scientist” and you are before the jury.

    Reasonable fact finders do not believe hacks or the quote-quote variety of scientists. Summary judgement is frequently awarded over the objections of expert, technical witnesses paid by the non-movant.

    I will agree however, that whenever you are hearing out a scientist on a controversial issue, it is a good idea to find out who is paying or funding her or him. Who does fund D. John Freeman? Mr. Peter Huber, Esq.? Dr. Murray Goldstein?

  104. Why do cases settle so frequently?

    Sometimes in the shadow of summary judgment, sometimes in the shadow of jury trial. Much more often in the shadow of summary judgment, in my experience.

  105. “Reasonable fact finders do not believe hacks or the quote-quote variety of scientists. Summary judgement is frequently awarded over the objections of expert, technical witnesses paid by the non-movant.”

    Frequently but not always. That is why you have to get in front of the right judge. People like Edwards are expert forum shoppers. All the judge needs is something to hang his hat on to survive appeal. Yes, in an ideal world, judges would bitch slap lawyers like Edwards but that is not what happens. Note, Edwards wins these cases in state court not federal court where there is no Rule 11 and judges are often elected, not confirmed.

  106. Dave, the undeniable fact that c-sections have increased more that 4-fold, while the rate of cerbal palsy has not budged, tells us what we need to know regarding Edwards’ honesty on the issue.

  107. M-I-L is an ob/gyn. She practiced > 40 years and had only one suit. She did nothing wrong medically, but her med mal co. settled because it was cheaper than fighting it.

    She moved to the Bay Area to help with her grandkids and wanted to volunteer her medical services. She almost didn’t because her med mal tail was so expensive. She got it covered and now many people benefit from her free services.

  108. Dave W. apparently would have us believe that among the thousands of judges across this land, one could not successfully shop for an unreasonable fact finder who has the ability to craft rulings which survive appeal. What a dupe.

  109. the undeniable fact that c-sections have increased more that 4-fold, while the rate of cerbal palsy has not budged, tells us what we need to know . . .

    That c-sections are done more carefully than they otherwise would be?

    She did nothing wrong medically

    Everybody in my family, especially my elders, are excellent professionals and all above reproach, too. The problem is those other people.

    She moved to the Bay Area to help with her grandkids and wanted to volunteer her medical services.

    It is an interesting issue as to whether poor people should be allowed to waive malpractice claims when they get free medical services from uncompensated practitioners. I am open to the idea that they should be able to waive such claims. However, I can also understand why the law may say different. As a lawyer who is often asked for, and sometimes gives, free advice, I feel this professional tension very personally. I don’t think there is an easy answer. It is especially hard when you want to do cut-rate work for someone who can pay, but not very much. Really discourages sliding scale. If I take $500 for something worth $5000, then I know I bought all that liability. I either have to do the work for free (and secretly) or not at all. One of my “free” clients just died unexpectedly. I know nothink! I signed nothink!

  110. whoops:

    One of my “free” clients

    should have been:

    One of my free “clients”

    Put the tone quotes in the wrong place. Misleading.

  111. Will Allen | May 23, 2007, 2:40pm | #

    Dave, the undeniable fact that c-sections have increased more that 4-fold, while the rate of cerbal palsy has not budged, tells us what we need to know regarding Edwards’ honesty on the issue.

    I’m sorry, did you mean “Iraq has been invaded, without any WMDs being discovered, tells us what we need to know regarding Bush’s honesty…?”

    And let’s not forget, Edwards was professional bound to argue one side of the case, while Bush was supposed to be playing it straight.

  112. Joe WTF?

    What does one have to do with the other? I don’t care what you think of Bush and I don’t care if Bush is boiling babies in the Whitehouse basement, that doesn’t excuse Edwards for being a lying profiteer that has helped to multilate innocent women in then name of money.

  113. Everybody in my family, especially my elders, are excellent professionals and all above reproach, too. The problem is those other people.

    Considering she never saw the patient but was named as part of the group, I’d say I correctly described the situation.

    It is an interesting issue as to whether poor people should be allowed to waive malpractice claims when they get free medical services from uncompensated practitioners. I am open to the idea that they should be able to waive such claims. However, I can also understand why the law may say different. As a lawyer who is often asked for, and sometimes gives, free advice, I feel this professional tension very personally. I don’t think there is an easy answer. It is especially hard when you want to do cut-rate work for someone who can pay, but not very much. Really discourages sliding scale. If I take $500 for something worth $5000, then I know I bought all that liability. I either have to do the work for free (and secretly) or not at all. One of my “free” clients just died unexpectedly. I know nothink! I signed nothink!

    I didn’t suggest that anybody thought she would want to practice medicine and not have insurance. I was talking about her tail coverage being damned expensive. Since you don’t seem to know what it is, here is a link.

  114. Non sequitur, thy name is Joe. I didn’t know that a lawyer was professionally bound to knowingly make factually false claims in court on behalf of his clients.

    Dave W., Edwards claimed that failure to perform c-sections caused cerebal palsy, therefore, the odds of c-sections going
    from 6% to 26% of deliveries, without any change in rates of cerebal palsy, is exceedingly slim.

  115. kinda off topic, but related to Edwards criticism in general –

    After poking around idly on google about the PS3 gaffe, I ran across this little stain from the HuffPost.

    According to the article, a volunteer called a local Wal-Mart, on his own, and used Edwards’ name. Wal-Mart takes this information and turns it into a national smear, right out of its corporate headquarters.

    “While the rest of America’s working families are waiting patiently in line, Sen. Edwards wants to cut to the front,” the Wal-Mart statement said.”

    That is an official Wal-Mart statement! Have you ever heard anything like that from a company? Is this the business Wal-Mart is in? What right does a corporation have to issue a statement like that about any citizen?

    Is this a company that ought to have its right to operate examined, or what?

    Emphasis mine. Just needed to remind myself just how much power some on the left think the government should have. Making a statement about a public critic privately trying to use status to curry special treatment is not just not protected speech, but a sign that the ‘right to operate’ should be ‘examined’.

    This doesn’t really reflect one way or the other on Edwards. That could easily be the kind of stupid mistake that a staffer might make. But the Huffpost’s reaction is just so telling certain branches of left-wing thought. Most notably that the government should revoke the ‘right to operate’ for criticizing a public figure.

  116. Ooops. Close the ‘a’ tags and use the ‘preview’ button.

  117. ASK, AND YE SHALL RECEIVE AN AMPLE HEAPING OF ABUSE FOR SO ASKING. OR NOT.

    URKOBOLD’S MINIONS “MASHED UP” SANFORD AND SON AND DUNE TODAY. URKOBOLD SEES SIMILAR POTENTIAL WITH THAT WOMAN WITH STRANGE SEX HABITS’ 10,000 PAGE BOOK (URKOBOLD ONLY READS THE SPEECHES) AND MR. SANFORD’S SHOW.

    URKOBOLD IS COMING TO YOU, ELIZABETH! THIS IS THE BIG ONE!

    What? I do not understand…and it is not funny…come on URKOBOLD be funny!

  118. JOSHUA CORNING GETS A COOKIE.

  119. It is funny for the URKOBOLD. That is all that matters.

    Well, that, batin, and whithering the souls of his enemies.

    Oh, and taint pecking, of course.

  120. Who is Fred Sanford?

  121. Will Allen,

    “I didn’t know that a lawyer was professionally bound to knowingly make factually false claims in court on behalf of his clients.”

    Nor do you know that Edwards knowingly made any factually false claims.

    And you do know, that you’re bobbing and weaving, that lawyers are professionally bound to argue their clients’ case with the best information and arguments available to them, short of knowingly making false statements.

    Which, once again, you have no evidence to suggest Edwards ever did.

  122. “Kerry was stunned, not moved, because, as he told me later, Edwards had recounted the exact story to him, almost in the exact same words, a year or two before–and with the same preface, that he’d never shared the memory with anyone else. Kerry said he found it chilling,. . . ”

    Apparently, he never met a successful trial lawyer before.

  123. Fred Sanford in Sanford Shrugged: Ugly is ugly.

  124. Yes, Joe, it is possible that Edwards is an idiot, but I think it rather more likely that he is a liar.

  125. “What right does a corporation have to issue a statement like that about any citizen?”

    ok i think i get it now.

    conservatives are the way they are because of repressed homoeroticism that translates into a naive hero worship (obviously phallic in nature) and some kind of grand collection of head traumas.

    and liberals are the way they are because they believe politicians are “citizens”, i.e. just like you and me…

    now it makes sense. now it *all* makes sense.

  126. BTW, an ‘acceptable’ funding bill finally passed both houses and is on it’s way to the president for his signature.

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