The Worst Vice Presidential Candidate in History?

There have been many political candidates who were willing to say or do just about anything to get elected. It's one of the reasons why politicians are so often rated below used car salesmen in public opinion surveys.

On Sunday's This Week program, ABC's George Stephanopoulos interviewed John Edwards, the Democrat's nominee for vice—president in 2004. During the program, the one—term Senator from North Carolina, made a publicity—provoking comment (video here) about the man who vanquished him and his erstwhile running mate John Kerry during the tumultuous campaign.

'George W. Bush is the worst president of our lifetime,' he said. Edwards went on to say that Bush is worse that the Watergate—tainted, Richard Nixon.

This, from a guy who, when debating Vice—president Dick Cheney, brought up the fact that Cheney's daughter is gay. His intent was to put his opponent in an embarrassing situation while simultaneously making points with conservative voters on the volatile issue. You can't get much lower on the evolutionary scale than using the family of your opponent to score points. Perhaps that's why Mary Cheney, Vice President Cheney's lesbian daughter, labeled Edwards a 'complete and total slime' in her recent book, Now It's My Turn: A Daughter's Chronicle of Political Life.

Edwards became one of America's super—wealthy trial lawyers by winning record jury verdicts and settlements that involved personal injury litigation. While running for his senate seat, and later for president and vice—president, he repeatedly told campaign audiences that he fought on behalf of the common man against the large insurance companies.

But those with knowledge of Edwards' legal career in North Carolina tell a different story. They say he always helped the little guy as long as he got the lawyer's share of the judgments — typically a third or even forty percent. Legal expert Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of the book, The Rule of Lawyers, said Edwards' success in court was due in large part to his mastery of one important trait.

'Edwards was clearly very good at managing the emotional tenor of a trial and that turns out to be at least as important as any particular skill in the sense of researching the fine points of law.'

Edwards preyed on the medical profession like a vampire in search of blood. In one of his most celebrated cases he alleged that a doctor and a hospital had been responsible for the cerebral palsy afflicting then—five—year—old Jennifer Campbell. During his summation, Edwards called upon all of his oratorical and melodramatic skills to win over the jury:

'I have to tell you that I didn't plan to talk about this. But right now I feel her (Jennifer), I feel her presence,'

he told the jury according to court records.

'[Jennifer's] inside me and she's talking to you ... And this is what she says to you. She says, 'I don't ask for your pity. What I ask for is your strength. And I don't ask for your sympathy, but I do ask for your courage.''

The emotional plea worked; Jennifer Campbell's family won a record jury verdict of $6.5 million against the hospital where the girl was born, a judgment reduced later to $2.75 million on appeal. Mr. Olson believes trial lawyers 'have been getting away with an awful lot in cerebral palsy litigation,' by excluding certain scientific evidence. Calling it 'junk science in the courtroom,' Olsen added,

'trial lawyers have been cashing in on cases where the doctor's conduct invariably did not make any difference at all; cases where the child was doomed to this condition based on things that happened before they ever got to the delivery room,' he said.

In other words, people like Edwards have abused the system to enrich their own bank accounts at the expense of the American public, all of whom suffer when outrageous jury awards drive up the cost of medical malpractice premiums. Doctors must add the cost of those premiums to their bills when treating patients who can scarcely afford the care to begin with. The result is that fewer and fewer people who need medical care will be able to receive it.

Meanwhile, money—grubbing lawyers like Edwards will mount campaigns for elective office while telling us that something must be done to make medical care more affordable. Perhaps the best thing done so far was to reject this vampire at the polls; he's sucked enough blood out of the American people.

Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the excutive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas.  Email Bob

There have been many political candidates who were willing to say or do just about anything to get elected. It's one of the reasons why politicians are so often rated below used car salesmen in public opinion surveys.

On Sunday's This Week program, ABC's George Stephanopoulos interviewed John Edwards, the Democrat's nominee for vice—president in 2004. During the program, the one—term Senator from North Carolina, made a publicity—provoking comment (video here) about the man who vanquished him and his erstwhile running mate John Kerry during the tumultuous campaign.

'George W. Bush is the worst president of our lifetime,' he said. Edwards went on to say that Bush is worse that the Watergate—tainted, Richard Nixon.

This, from a guy who, when debating Vice—president Dick Cheney, brought up the fact that Cheney's daughter is gay. His intent was to put his opponent in an embarrassing situation while simultaneously making points with conservative voters on the volatile issue. You can't get much lower on the evolutionary scale than using the family of your opponent to score points. Perhaps that's why Mary Cheney, Vice President Cheney's lesbian daughter, labeled Edwards a 'complete and total slime' in her recent book, Now It's My Turn: A Daughter's Chronicle of Political Life.

Edwards became one of America's super—wealthy trial lawyers by winning record jury verdicts and settlements that involved personal injury litigation. While running for his senate seat, and later for president and vice—president, he repeatedly told campaign audiences that he fought on behalf of the common man against the large insurance companies.

But those with knowledge of Edwards' legal career in North Carolina tell a different story. They say he always helped the little guy as long as he got the lawyer's share of the judgments — typically a third or even forty percent. Legal expert Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of the book, The Rule of Lawyers, said Edwards' success in court was due in large part to his mastery of one important trait.

'Edwards was clearly very good at managing the emotional tenor of a trial and that turns out to be at least as important as any particular skill in the sense of researching the fine points of law.'

Edwards preyed on the medical profession like a vampire in search of blood. In one of his most celebrated cases he alleged that a doctor and a hospital had been responsible for the cerebral palsy afflicting then—five—year—old Jennifer Campbell. During his summation, Edwards called upon all of his oratorical and melodramatic skills to win over the jury:

'I have to tell you that I didn't plan to talk about this. But right now I feel her (Jennifer), I feel her presence,'

he told the jury according to court records.

'[Jennifer's] inside me and she's talking to you ... And this is what she says to you. She says, 'I don't ask for your pity. What I ask for is your strength. And I don't ask for your sympathy, but I do ask for your courage.''

The emotional plea worked; Jennifer Campbell's family won a record jury verdict of $6.5 million against the hospital where the girl was born, a judgment reduced later to $2.75 million on appeal. Mr. Olson believes trial lawyers 'have been getting away with an awful lot in cerebral palsy litigation,' by excluding certain scientific evidence. Calling it 'junk science in the courtroom,' Olsen added,

'trial lawyers have been cashing in on cases where the doctor's conduct invariably did not make any difference at all; cases where the child was doomed to this condition based on things that happened before they ever got to the delivery room,' he said.

In other words, people like Edwards have abused the system to enrich their own bank accounts at the expense of the American public, all of whom suffer when outrageous jury awards drive up the cost of medical malpractice premiums. Doctors must add the cost of those premiums to their bills when treating patients who can scarcely afford the care to begin with. The result is that fewer and fewer people who need medical care will be able to receive it.

Meanwhile, money—grubbing lawyers like Edwards will mount campaigns for elective office while telling us that something must be done to make medical care more affordable. Perhaps the best thing done so far was to reject this vampire at the polls; he's sucked enough blood out of the American people.

Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the excutive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas.  Email Bob