The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Change the Subject

A friend of mine is a prominent criminal defense attorney. I once asked him how he'd handle a situation in which the evidence is overwhelmingly against his client. His response was quick, "I'd try to strike a bargain with the ADA (Assistant District Attorney)."

"But what if the ADA won't bargain?" I asked. "What if you have to go to trial and defend this guy?"

He smiled. "If I was forced into the courtroom, I'd change the subject."

What he was referring to was an old criminal defense strategy. If your guy is guilty, change the subject. Blame police procedure, assert prosecutor malfeasance, blame society for forcing the defendant into his criminal acts. Change the subject.

It's interesting to note that the proponents of Barack Obama's newly-minted healthcare legislation are using the same strategy. As criticism against Obamacare continues unabated, the President's supporters are trying hard to change the subject. Political and media defenders of the President are lamenting the "anger and violence" that they claim permeates all who object to this monstrously expensive and generally ineffective "reform" measure. Left-leaning commentators suggest in unison that any criticism of the President or his new legislation is a not-so-subtle form of racism.

Stated simply, they're trying hard to change the subject. Rather than debate Obamacare on its merits, they hurl accusations in an effort to obfuscate the details of the bill. Wringing one's hands and suggesting that legislators lives are at risk is a perfect way to avoid discussing the enormous costs associated with Obamacare. The fact that a number of major companies, including AT&T, Caterpillar, Verizon, and others, have already taken write-downs on their projections for 2010 and 2011 (implying that health-care premiums will rise) has gone largely unreported. But a coffin in the front yard of a congressman makes major news. Change the subject.

At the end of the day, a defense attorney who tries to change the subject is doing so out of desperation. In a way, the political class that is trying to change the subject on Obamacare is equally desparate. In their heart of hearts they know that this program will not reduce the deficit, will not cause premiums to go down, and is not cost-oriented reform in any meaningful sense of the word. For that reason, they prefer not to have to defend it on its merits, so instead they change the subject.

In most cases, the jury in a criminal trial sees through the attorney's attempts to obfuscate the facts and after deliberation, reaches a guilty verdict. I suspect that in November the American public will reach its own verdict on the Congress' complete disregard for responsible spending and its blatant attempt to take an already over-sized federal government and turn it into an even more intrusive burden on us all.