Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Sarah Show

Maybe Sarah Palin does have a TV career if (when?) she loses her quest for Vice President in 4 days -- as a comedian. She certainly does have a habit of making me laugh.

The latest:

ABC News' Steven Portnoy reports: In a conservative radio interview that aired in Washington, D.C. Friday morning, Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin said she fears her First Amendment rights may be threatened by "attacks" from reporters who suggest she is engaging in a negative campaign against Barack Obama.
See Palin Fears Media Threaten Her First Amendment Rights.

Her latest foray into silliness reminded me of an episode that occurred several years ago. It's one of my favorite legal war stories.

I was involved in a particularly contentious legal negotiation, with a lawyer who was a total jerk, a "BALDie" if I may. Unfortunately for him, his client wasn't in a very good bargaining position and even worse, he wasn't a very good advocate. All bluster, no substance. As much as I try not to indulge, there are times when the former litigator in me comes out when dealing with a stupid bully on the other side. I'll often try to let things go for a while, but then at some point I say basta, enough. I admit that I have sometimes been known to be a fierce advocate for my clients. Words like tough, aggressive, withering and of course, bitch, have all come my way over the years. So, things got pretty ugly, with accusations being hurled by client and lawyer alike.

Then one day, this lawyer called me and announced that he wouldn't deal with me anymore. He demanded that I transfer the case to one of the other lawyers in my firm. I couldn't help it, I just laughed at him. As I said to him, my client chose me as his attorney and I would serve in that role so long as he wanted me too. And, if anything, the fact that I was able to drive opposing counsel crazy would no doubt endear me to my client even more. As I laughingly reminded him, he didn't get to pick opposing counsel. I told him that it was too bad -- he didn't have to like me, but he had to deal with me. If he couldn't handle it, perhaps he should suggest that his client find another lawyer. But so long as he was there, he was stuck with me.

This came to mind when I heard Palin whining about the press criticizing her attacks on Obama and his scary "associates." Glenn Greenwald explains the silliness of her position from a legal perspective, Sarah Palin speaks on the First Amendment:

The First Amendment is actually not that complicated. It can be read from start to finish in about 10 seconds. It bars the Government from abridging free speech rights. It doesn't have anything to do with whether you're free to say things without being criticized, or whether you can comment on blogs without being edited, or whether people can bar you from their private planes because they don't like what you've said.

If anything, Palin has this exactly backwards, since one thing that the First Amendment does actually guarantee is a free press. Thus, when the press criticizes a political candidate and a Governor such as Palin, that is a classic example of First Amendment rights being exercised, not abridged.

Of course, as Greenwald notes, the First Amendment was intended to prevent the government (that's you Governor, VP wannabe) from suppressing the speech of the public and the press. But no one is arguing that the First Amendment doesn't in fact apply to Palin as well, permitting her to express her point of view -- intelligible or otherwise. But her suggestion that her uttered words are protected -- sacred -- and that her detractors are somehow prohibited from challenging her under the 1st Amendment is what's laughable.

Palin's response called to mind that lawyer who didn't want to deal with me. Palin certainly is free to say what she wants, but that doesn't mean that the press -- and the public -- can't find her silly or stupid (or both) and respond accordingly. She can speak her mind, but no one is required to like what she says. She just has to deal with it -- or shut up.


(Photo outside the entrance to my office, courtesy of one of the LLWL Gang)

(BALDie = Big Asshole, Little Dick)

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