The attack on Sheheen, which is really an attack on lawyers

When I went to look at the Washington Post video explaining how someone becomes a Saint, I first had to listen to the anti-Sheheen attack ad (because, I suppose, The Washington Post hates me).

Which, of course, is an anti-lawyer ad. If you are a small-town lawyer, as Vincent Sheheen is, a malicious person should find it pretty easy to find such cases to use in blackening your name.

Since it was a slam at lawyers in general, our own Bryan Caskey — whom no one would mistake for a Democrat, I think — received this appeal:

Dear Bryan,

I am proud to be a member of South Carolina’s legal profession, trained and sworn to uphold the law, protect the rights laid out in our Constitution, and fight for justice.

Like you, I swore that, “I will assist the defenseless or oppressed by ensuring that justice is available to all citizens and will not delay any person’s cause for profit or malice.”

You may have seen recently that Nikki Haley and her allies, the attorney-dominated Republican Governors Association Executive Committee, launched a vicious and deceptive attack on me, and by association you and every lawyer in South Carolina and across the country.  The RGA is spending millions of dollars bashing any attorney who has ever represented a client accused of a crime.

Do they have so little regard for our Constitution and our values that they would stoop this low just so Haley can continue to occupy the Governor’s Mansion? Sadly, the answer is yes.

Freedom, justice, and equal protection under the law are not Republican or Democratic values – they are American values, and they are the values we as attorneys are sworn to uphold.  Every American, including Nikki Haley, has a right to a legal defense.

Now is the time to stand strong and fight back!  Help me fight against this vicious slander of the legal profession and assault on the Bill of Rights.  Haley and her allies are gambling that we will have neither the funds nor the will to stand against this shameless assault.

If you can, send a contribution of $1000, $500, $250 or whatever you are able to send today.  It will help us get our message out to protect the truth, to defend our profession, and to draw a line in the sand against attacks like these.

If we do not stand up to these despicable attacks now, we will have no right to complain when the next such attack surfaces.  And the next.  And the next.  And we know they are coming.

Please stand with me and send in what you can today to help us fight back against the extremists whose only tools are lies, fear and intimidation!

Thank you.


For his part, says Bryan, “I’m sympathetic, but I have a rule against giving politicians money: it only encourages them.”

18 thoughts on “The attack on Sheheen, which is really an attack on lawyers

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    What’s most troubling about that ad is that it’s not from Nikki Haley, so you can’t excuse it as a candidate who has lost all sense of perspective in her desire to win.

    Nor is it from some fringe, oddball group that you might expect to do something so dishonest.

    Nor does it come from the partisan mendacity industry inside the Beltway.

    It’s from the Republican Governors’ Association, which means this is coming from all 29 governors of actual states — people who have no stake in the outcome of this election, but are going out of their way to attack Vincent Sheheen in a most scurrilous and dishonest fashion.

    1. Juan Caruso

      What’s most troubling about that ad is the ABA’s perfunctory response. It leaves the public with the impression that trial lawyers (e.g. some ambulance chasers like former presidential candidate John Edwards)
      are either steered by a higher sense of morality than their peers, or they are peerless.

      The Sheheen camp’s response that Vincent has not taken a criminal case in ten years makes it clear that once
      trial lawyers earn enough, some may no longer hunger for getting criminals on the streets. In other words,
      they apply a conscious decision not to take such cases.

      The ABA’s response fails to mention that no lawyer is required to defend a suspected criminal whom he suspects is guilty.

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        Actually, lawyers are specifically ethically required to defend those whose cases are unpopular or repugnant.

        1. Juan Caruso

          Suppose lawyers A,B,C,D,E,F,and G decide not to defend an unpopular or repugnant suspect. It is entirely their choice; and no professional penalties ever accrue to them.

          Actually, the judge gets angry, and when he cajoles F to step in, that really is not ethical either because a debt may be inferred.

          All of this occurs beyond public perception, of course. Morality trumps ethics, but public schools are attempting to eliminate the former.

  2. Bryan Caskey

    What makes it even worse is that (as many here have pointed out) Haley is going to easily cruise to a win unless something catastrophic happens to her. So why go out and make this ad? It doesn’t make any sense to me.

    If the race were neck-and-neck, and it was a bitterly contested race, I could understand. I still wouldn’t condone it, but at least it would make sense. It’s like one of the unwritten rules in baseball: You don’t steal bases when you’re up 7 runs after the 5th inning.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yes, I’d say the same thing, if this were from the Haley campaign. It would seem a case of Nixon ’72 Syndrome: Lying, cheating and stealing to win even though it’s obvious you can’t lose.

      But this is worse. This isn’t even from the candidate involved. This is from a completely outside group, engaging in this kind of contemptible behavior just because, nowadays, that’s what they do. This sort of attack ad is just their way of saying “good morning, nice day if it don’t rain.” Our politics have gotten so nasty that even people who have no skin in the game do this sort of thing.

      We have sunk so low in this country…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        To elaborate…

        When I took the “West Wing” test, the first question was to choose one of a series of descriptions for the word “politics.” Choices included such phrases as “means to an end” and “are an exciting game.”

        I chose “are the foundation of America.” Kind of an oblique answer, but it came closest to the way I think of politics. People wrongly use the term “political” as a pejorative. But politics, properly understood, has to do with the ways people interact with each other, in a free society (or in any society, really, but healthy politics are particularly important to one such as ours), to address the issues they share in common. It is an essential element in a properly functioning community.

        But if I’m right and politics are indeed “the foundation of America,” then ads such as this indicate that the foundation is rotting away beneath us…

  3. Silence

    I have here in my hand a list of 205 that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party South Carolina Bar and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department State Legislature.

  4. Brad Warthen Post author

    When Silence and Bryan react this negatively, you have to wonder whom this is supposed to appeal to.

    And the answer would seem to be… women.

    So here’s my reconstruction of the “thought” process of the author of this ad:

    We need to peel away women, the kind of women who are reflexive Democratic voters. As we know, their brains are just soft, fuzzy bundles of emotions, and incapable of rational thought. Where men (red-blooded conservative men, that is) have ganglia and synapses, they have links to “kitty” videos. So we will appeal to them with words that will fill their pretty little heads with the notion that Vincent Sheheen doesn’t care about them, has in fact sided with the kinds of men who hurt women. That will fill their warm, mushy hearts with fear that a Governor Sheheen would pursue policies that promote wife-beating…

    1. Doug Ross

      But don’t you support the type of businesses that create these ads and push them down the throat of the public? I don’t think Nikki Haley is sitting around trying to figure out what the best negative ad strategy is for her. It’s the political consultants who do it.

      I saw a very positive Haley ad during Meet The Press yesterday with endorsements from three business leaders on her economic policies and ending with a very happy shot of a young, telegenic black woman smiling and hugging Haley. I’d much rather see those types of ads. Getting someone else to vouch for you is better than slamming the other person.

      And, meanwhile, Lindsey Graham’s anti-Obamcare ads seem to be pervasive whenever I am flipping through the local channels. Do those bother you as much? He’s running against Obama big time.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Yes, they bother me — when I see them, which isn’t often, since I don’t watch a lot of commercial television.

        But not as much as this “Hillary love” ad from Bill Connor. I had coffee with Bill a couple of weeks ago, and intended to do a post — then I saw that video on his site, and realized I couldn’t write about him until I ask him how he justifies such a thing. Which I haven’t gotten around to doing yet…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          I just don’t think of Bill as the kind of guy who would condemn someone for saying positive things about a person in the opposite party. So I was taken aback by that video…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          And I welcome their advertising dollars.

          But have you noticed something? There have never been any ads on this blog from candidates who run ads of which I strongly disapprove.

          That’s not because of any strict rule on my part. It’s more about the way the marketplace of ideas works…

        2. Don Corleone

          “It makes no difference, it don’t make any difference to me what a man does for a living, you understand. But your business is a little dangerous.”

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