Hey, Republicans! Why can’t you get trial lawyers on your side like you did with Jews?

A long time ago, back when Karl Rove was in charge, I heard from another lawyer that Rove’s concept of the permanent majority was to undermine the three-legged stool that supported Democratic funding: (1) labor, (2) Jews and (3) trial lawyers.

Back then, it seemed that the Jewish vote could be co-opted by people like Lieberman and Dershowitz, who appeared to be nice Jewish boys to people like my grandparents, but espoused views of inequality and hatred towards Palestinians (Ay-rabs) that was not unlike the hatred expressed towards black people in this country.  The irony was that so many Jew of my grandparents generation lined up on the right side of civil rights back in the 60’s.  But today, it seems like the Jewish vote is precariously balanced on the fence, probably out of hatred, fear and racism.  To a great extent, Rove has succeeded in eroding one of the traditional blocks of Democratic voters and funding.

In the case of labor, it seems like the unions have helped Rove create a cloud of suspicion over what they do.  Up until the recent introduction of the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 1409, S. 560), it has seemed that there has been fear, inspired perhaps by eight years of Rove/Bush, about increasing the ranks of organized labor and, thus, Democratic voters.  But the trend is encouraging.  Yes, there is virulent opposition.  I hear the fear-mongering ads on sportstalk radio (not just on Rush and Hannity) telling Joe Contractor, as he drives from home to his job in the pre-dawn hours, telling him that EFCA is about taking away the working man’s right to a secret ballot.  That’s a powerful argument, because it plays on the fear that we’ll have no choices under the fascist Obama regime.  At the same time, it’s not catching on.  Republicans just don’t seem to be winning to many points on this issue.

Which brings us back to my job.  I don’t sue doctors for a living; I enforce a patient’s rights, or more often the rights of a patient’s family because the patient is deceased.  In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, I have to go through hoops galore before I can even file a malpractice case – whether against a hospital, doctor, lawyer, accountant or any other certified professional.  These cases are incredibly expensive for the attorney, and if we make a single misstep I can be sued personally.  This is the system that people seek to reform.

Now, take a step back.  Before Cheney decided that Iraq could be overthrown and occupied for oil production under the false pretense that Hussein was somehow responsible for 9/11, in fact before 9/11 itself, this issue of ‘tort reform’ was a big concern of mine and many of my colleagues.  The lies back then were told about the woman who spilled her hot coffee from McDonalds, and how people wanted get rich quick whenever a doctor couldn’t save someone’s life, despite heroic efforts.  You were going to have to cross state lines to have your baby because the trial lawyers had chased all the doctors away.

Now a lot of these old stories are getting dusted off again.  It’s amazing.  After just a few weeks of winning the public opinion war, it seems that the goal of killing off the trial lawyers is starting to bubble back to the surface.  Any link to the current debate about essential healthcare reform is tenuous, but that should be no surprise.  We’re talking about the same people who brought you the ‘death panel’.

Remember, the last time around, the evil that needed to be cured was the exodus of doctors who couldn’t  afford high malpractice insurance premiums.  This time, the same cure (‘tort reform’) is being presented as a remedy to the malicious plan that Obama has hatched to simply bail out trial lawyers (we don’t need a bailout!) and harm the American public.  See if you can make sense of this article by Hugh Hewitt.  All our problems with health care and the uninsured would just go away if it wasn’t for those damn trial lawyers!

It’s one thing if Hugh Hewitt is blowing steam over at Townhall, but I think this is being picked up as a talking point.  Apparently Giuliani was pushing this same garbage on Meet The Press today.  This guy is supposed to be a moderate.  This is a guy who is supposed to be socially progressive.

So the Conservatives have their pound of flesh with Van Jones.  They have their month of  madness with death panels and guns at town hall meetings.  I knew Congress should not have taken that summer break!  And what I see is that they’re getting greedy.  But here’s an idea – why not come up with an agenda that favors social justice to the extent that the trial lawyer money, like the Jewish money, starts to get diverted to you – what about trying to win trial lawyers over?  Do you think you can do it?