Well, that’s an interesting point

When I was a young lawyer and an avid Democrat, I was just thrilled that Bill Clinton and his wife were both lawyers. It seemed to vindicate my career decision. As I’ve become less enthralled with being a lawyer, and as the lawyer politicians have proven adept at parsing the truth (“it depends what ‘is’ means”), I’m a little less excited about the professional affinity I share with the Clintons and the Obamas.

One thing I never realized, though, is that I share a professional affinity, not just with those two power pairs, but with just about every major Democratic politician there is:

The Democratic Party has become the Lawyers’ Party. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are lawyers. Bill Clinton and Michelle Obama are lawyers. John Edwards, the other former Democrat candidate for president, is a lawyer and so is his wife Elizabeth. Every Democrat nominee since 1984 went to law school (although Gore did not graduate.) Every Democrat vice presidential nominee since 1976, except for Lloyd Benson, went to law school. Look at the Democrat Party in Congress: the Majority Leader in each house is a lawyer.

The Republican Party is different. President Bush and Vice President Cheney were not lawyers, but businessmen. The leaders of the Republican Revolution were not lawyers. Newt Gingrich was a history professor; Tom Delay was an exterminator; and Dick Armey was an economist. House Minority Leader Boehner was a plastic manufacturer, not a lawyer. The former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is a heart surgeon.

This is not just an interesting coincidence. It tells one something about the abilities and belief systems that animate these office-seekers:

Who was the last Republican president who was a lawyer? Gerald Ford, who left office thirty-one years ago and who barely won the Republican nomination as a sitting president, running against Ronald Reagan in 1976. The Republican Party is made up of real people doing real work. The Democratic Party is made up of lawyers. Democrats mock and scorn men who create wealth, like Bush and Cheney, or who heal the sick like Frist, or who immerse themselves in history like Gingrich.

The Lawyers’ Party sees these sorts of people, who provide goods and services that people want, as the enemies of America. And so we have seen the procession of official enemies in the eyes of the Lawyers’ Party grow. Against whom do Hillary and Obama rail? Pharmaceutical companies, oil companies, hospitals, manufacturers, fast food restaurant chains, large retail businesses, bankers and anyone producing anything of value in our nation.

This is the natural consequence of viewing everything through the eyes of lawyers. Lawyers solve problems by successfully representing their clients, in this case the American people. Lawyers seek to have new laws passed, they seek to win lawsuits, they press appellate courts to overturn precedent, and lawyers always parse language to favor their side.

Confined to the narrow practice of law, that is fine. But it is an awful way to govern a great nation. When politicians as lawyers begin to view some Americans as clients and other Americans as opposing parties, then the role of the legal system in our life becomes all consuming. Some Americans become “adverse parties” of our very government. We are not all litigants in some vast social class action suit. We are citizens of a republic which promises us a great deal of freedom from laws, from courts, and from lawyers.¬† (Emphasis mine.)

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  • jj

    The only thing I’d disagree with is the notion that “lawyers solve problems…” They do? Since when? Oh, maybe now and then a problem gets solved along the way, by accident – in the course of creating seventeen or eighteen new problems [opportunities for litigation] – but our entire legal system is in oppostion to the idea that a problem should ever be solved: there’s no reward at all for ending or solving a problem! The reward comes with endless litigation, not ending litigation.

    At this point yes, we are indeed all litigants, in that we all share the consequences. There is a “lawyer tax” added to the price of practically everything it’s possible to buy these days, and every service for which you can pay includes a built-in cut for the lawyers.

    They’re everywhere, and so are their side effects; less easy to kill than Norway rats or cockroaches.

  • http://www.mrshappyhousewife.com Mrs. Happy Housewife

    Cheer up. John Adams was also a lawyer. Did you catch the HBO miniseries premiere last night?

  • Danny Lemieux

    Very interesting observation. I guess the dichotomy is between those that create wealth (and jobs) and those that feed off the wealth created by others. A definition of successful parasitism, however, is that the parasite does not kill the host.

  • Ymarsakar

    Lawyers solve problems by successfully representing their clients, in this case the American people.

    Lawyers persecute or defend people because the people have given them the authority and power to do so. Their “clients” are not the American people. Otherwise they would be telling the American people all the client-lawyer privileged information.

    Lawyers are successful when they obey the system. However, to become successful you have to understand the system and be able to manipulate it, instead of just obeying it. And it is not a far step from manipulating laws and its interpretations to corrupting those laws for your own political ideology. Lawyers are motivated to be zealous in their prosecutions or defense. They aren’t paid to defend justice, they are paid to defend their client or the state.

    All of these things add up to the Action Hero Sock Puppet syndrome seen at blackfive.

    Lawyers seek to have new laws passed, they seek to win lawsuits, they press appellate courts to overturn precedent, and lawyers always parse language to favor their side.

    That is what they are expected to do, just as the Founding Fathers expected the government to become corrupt and try to massacre its citizens.

    It’s built into the system, the system of justice through advocacy, even advocating for the evil.

    The lawyer was designed with no interest other than in themselves, which is advanced through ensuring that their clients succede. Individuals can change that template, but the template still decides for many people what and who they are. THe justice system assumes lawyers are going to cheat and do everything in their power to get ahead. Unfortunately, the lawyers know that as well and have used the various centuries to ensure that the justice system favors lawyers and not those that can replace lawyers. Lawyers never had a monopoly on justice nor were they designed to have one, but it has come about that they are in a position and political situation that has this monopoly in fact.

    As the field of law became farther and farther away from the common problems and risks faced by others, it became a pit to corrupt the good intentions of those that go into it. Instead, people now go into law in order to understand how to game the system and use the law as a weapon against their enemies. THis would have been impractical on the frontier, when law was weak and sparse. But now a days, laws are so numerous, complex, and everpresent that being a lawyer confers a great deal of implicit power with that knowledge and with those connections.

    With lawyers, you can even defend Saddam and try to get him off the hook. How about that for power.

    John Adams was also a lawyer.

    As the law says, possession is 9/10ths of the law, especially when you are in possession of the deed and the paper contracts/work.

    In this case, this means that being alive counts for 9/10ths of the law. He ain’t alive, while Clinton is. The law can’t really be used by dead people except in wills. But even then, they need an executor of the estates. Or is that caretaker.

  • jj

    Adams was also a horrible President – our first to be considered a mess and limited to one-term. (Didn’t take long, did it?) He was pretty one-dimensional: a MUCH better revolutionary than President….

  • Jose

    Perhaps the funniest greeting card I ever saw had a lawyer theme. The front cover showed a drawing of a helicopter lifting a net with arms and legs sticking out. The inside said “Someday lawyers will be used to put out forest fires”.