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Small Businessman Bush & the Evil Trial Lawyer

July 17, 2004
By Rush Roberts

Ah, the power of television. I was watching the news this morning against my better judgment, when he did it again. Our Wonderful Leader put me in a foul mood to begin my day.

He did it in Wisconsin, speaking in a brief clip in which he proudly delivered another custom-tailored snippet to perfection, that trademark self-satisfied smirk on his face giving away the fact that he knew as soon as the words had escaped his mouth that he’d be high-fiving his speechwriters back on the tour bus over kool-aid and cookies in a few short minutes.

What he said was this:

“You can’t be pro-small business and pro-trial lawyer at the same time.” He then added, “you have to choose” to the raucous applause of the very patriotic audience.

I was quite confused. I was not really angered at first; in fact when I first saw it I nearly felt sorry for Dubya and wanted to sit down and tell him a few things. Like the definition of a small business. Then I thought it would be much more fun to write this article, plus I don’t think I could sit in the same room as him.

This was obviously a not-very-well disguised jab at Senator John Edwards, the Vice Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party. As most people are aware, Edwards was the son of a mill worker, was the first in his family to go to college, worked his way through law school, and then spent the next two decades fighting HMOs, insurance companies, and large negligent corporations on the behalf of everyday people. Then he ran for the United States Senate, carrying out a promise to his recently deceased teenage son, and won. And all this by the time he was 45 years old.

But the Bush Administration (as usual) does not seem to be too concerned with factual evidence, and would prefer to play on peoples’ fears and prejudices. Lawyers can be perceived as unpopular at times. Especially during election years, when you are desperate.

And so Team Bush has decided to portray Edwards as some greedy bloodsucker who made his living bankrupting struggling small-business owners in a series of frivolous, trumped-up lawsuits.

This is astoundingly absurd.

First of all, I believe Bush is confused as to what actually construes the definition of small businesses. For example, an HMO is not a small business. Enron is not a small business. A “large negligent corporation” is also not a small business. (The same Christopher Hitchens who recently defended Bush’s Iraq war and lambasted Michael Moore has a good word for Edwards? Objectivity is not extinct, perhaps.)

Sad as it is, Bush himself probably fancies himself as something of a former small business owner. He did drive several oil companies into the ground while his father was trying to keep him out of his hair during his twelve years as Vice President and President. So technically, this could be perceived as accurate. Yet unlike every single other small business owner, Bush had his family fortune of millions to fall back on each time he went under. That is basically what is wrong with the first part of his statement: his mangling distortion of the term “small business”.

The second part is just plain nonsensical. He has to choose? A Vice Presidential candidate must now choose between the small business lobby and the trial lawyer lobby, when he is not claiming to represent either, let alone both? John Edwards became a United States Senator in 1998. Beginning then, his duty was to the people of North Carolina. Now, as a Vice Presidential Candidate, his duty is to the American people.

Karl Rove and his roving band of delightfully irreverent character assassins seem to be particularly bent on pushing Edwards’ image underwater and smothering it until it stops kicking, for one simple reason: He is a living and personified walking example of the original Horatio Alger American Dream, the type of up-from-the-bootstraps story that Rush Limbaugh masturbates to on air. Yet has a (D) next to his name and state instead of an (R) because even though he has made millions thanks to his talents and intuitions, he has never in the dark hourless nights of his long career let go his original ideals and mores. In simpler words, they resent and envy him because he has the courage to believe in something more powerful than money. And this is a trait that appeals to everyone, small business owner or no.

Being the son of a small business owner and growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, I can say that the latter were much more kind, economically speaking. But Bush seems to be comfortable portraying himself as something he’s not. So I say let him strut around in flightsuits, let him claim to know something about small businesses, and most importantly, let him go back to Crawford in January and pretend to be a Texan until they get tired of him up there too.

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