Thursday, July 12, 2007

Fred Thompson makes case against holding past legal work against him

'Dredging up clients' from his legal past to use against him is a 'gambit of those schooled in the creative uses of law and politics,' soon-to-be Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson writes at the influential conservative blog Power Line.

Thompson never mentions the Los Angeles Times report from Saturday about officials at the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association saying they hired Thompson in the early 1990s to lobby on the 'pro-choice' group's behalf (Thompson's aides have said he had not done so)....

Thompson adds that:

• The practice of law is a business as well as a profession. It's the way you support your family. And if 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.

This was once true. It was certainly the Washington game as Thompson, among many others, played it. (Ditto now Chief Justice Roberts, who used his past representation of occasional liberal clients to assuage left critics of his nomination.)

I'm not sure it is very true any longer, as true believers and moral crusaders (from both sides, to at least some degree) have imposed standards of moral purity on professions built on different assumptions.

One consequence, I think, is that many worthy potential public leaders are no longer willing to risk seeking public office, and most of those who do are no longer so worthy. Human lives lived fully do not often produce stick figures willing to wear ideological caricatures as their life masks.

(Did that make sense? Words can get away from you in this medium.)

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