Fred Thompson Watch II

The leading non-candidate for the GOP presidential nomination finally responded to news that he lobbied on behalf of a pro-abortion group in the early 1990s.

Fred Thompson is backing off his flat denial that he once lobbied for an abortion-rights group. He now says he doesn’t remember it, but does not dispute evidence to the contrary.

The climb-down could be a significant embarrassment for a prospective candidate with a plain-spoken appeal and who has courted the GOP’s anti-abortion base, although Thompson and his advisers had signaled for several days that it was coming.

Realizing that opponents in both parties are mining his legal career for damaging ammunition, Thompson also is engaging in a bit of preemption. He writes in a column posted Wednesday by the conservative Power Line blog: “[I]f a client has a legal and ethical right to take a position, then you may appropriately represent him as long as he does not lie or otherwise conduct himself improperly while you are representing him. In almost 30 years of practicing law I must have had hundreds of clients and thousands of conversations about legal matters. Like any good lawyer, I would always try to give my best, objective and professional opinion on any legal question presented to me.” MORE

This is nonsense. Yes, in our adversary legal system it is important than both sides of a case have competent attorneys who represent them zealously. The lawyers do their best, and usually justice prevails. A lawyer who represents an axe murderer is filling an important role in seeing that everyone receives a fair trial.

That's not what Thompson was doing in this case. There was no trial involved, and his "client" was not in any legal jeopardy. He was using his political connections at the White House to try to get favors for one side of a political fight. The pro-abortion group was at risk of nothing more than not getting their way on a matter of public policy.

I can guarantee you that if Thompson had lobbied the U.S. government on behalf of, for example, a group wanting more rights for illegal immigrants, the same people who think his representation of a pro-abortion group is no big deal would be singing a different tune.

The story linked above also notes that the Thompson non-campaign was planning an announcement sometime before August 5th, but may push that back further in order to get past this controversy. We'll see. I continue to think the wheels will come off the Fred Thompson bandwagon once he enters the race and has to face actual questions about actual policies.

No comments: