I can imagine scarier potential GOP AGs than Rudy Giuliani, say, John Ashcroft or Alberto Gonzalez. (Do I hear a second for Roy Moore?) But if even Florida Republicans have tired of America’s Mayor, I expect that this would be a liability in the general-election campaign. A small liability, no doubt, only with the ~zero percent of undecideds who will be swayed by a judicious likely slate of appointees.
And the counterattack on Obama’s AG apparent has already begun:
John Edwards has dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, but he still has a chance to play kingmaker with an endorsement of either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Multiple reports claim that the Illinois senator has promised Edwards the job of attorney general in a future Obama administration. This means that Edwards’s legal record deserves more scrutiny than it has heretofore received.
Edwards defended his trial-lawyer past on the campaign trail. The mother of one of his clients, Valerie Lakey, has spoken on his behalf, and in his 2003 book, Four Trials, Edwards uses Lakey’s case as a supposed example of bringing a callous, recalcitrant company to justice for the terrible injuries suffered by a little girl. Throughout the 2004 presidential campaign, when he eventually served as John Kerry’s running mate, Edwards made much of his $25 million victory in the Lakey trial; he even mentioned it during his debate with Vice President Cheney. The media ate up the story of Edwards’s dramatic (if improperly prejudicial) closing argument that invoked the death of his own son. The Lakey case seemed to inoculate him against criticism of his pre-Senate career as a plaintiff attorney.
It shouldn’t have, for the facts of this case tell a different story—that of a blameless company attacked, solely because of its deep pockets, for the negligence of others. The Lakey case is really about the collusion of trial lawyers and judges to make lawless, plaintiff-friendly rulings.