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In Politics – Too Many Lawyers?

 By   Shlomo Maital

 

     “98% of lawyers give the rest a bad name.” There are an infinite number of such jibes, most of them worse. I am an economist – Personally I think economists have done far more damage to the world than lawyers.

       But after watching the Mueller testimony, before two House of Representative committees… I can make the case that lawyer-dominated legislatures generally miss the point.

       The US House of Representatives has 535 members, of whom 168 are lawyers, by far the leading profession. In contrast there are only 11 physicians and three psychologists. Yet this body writes the laws for healthcare in the US.

         The US Senate has 50 lawyers, fully half of the 100 senators. Only 3 Senators are physicians.

         So what is the problem?

         In the Mueller hearings before the House Judiciary Committee (naturally, mostly lawyers, it makes sense) and the House Intelligence committee (also, lots of lawyers), one question dominated what members asked Mueller:

         Did President Trump break the law? Did he conspire? Did he tamper with witnesses?

         That’s the wrong question. Even if he did break the law, he cannot be prosecuted. That is what the Department of Justice says. He can be impeached – but not convicted, because Republicans dominate the Senate.

           So the legal approach is pointless.

           Then, what IS the point?

           Did President Trump act disloyally, treasonously, unethically, immorally? Did he act really really badly?  

           THAT is the question. THAT should have been the focus. It was, for a handful of House members. But mostly the lawyers dominated. And that played into Trump’s hands. Mueller was greatly limited in what he could say, because Special Counsel is a prosecutor – and prosecutors cannot say a whole lot. That in part is why his answers were hesitant. Plus – YOU try working long hours for 22 months, at age 74 and then testify for 8 hours before two committees, while having trouble hearing the questions (I really think Mueller needs hearing aids – vanity may prevent this, trust me, I know personally!).

           We voters should expect our elected leaders to behave honestly, morally, and to speak wisely, respecting everyone, especially their opponents. When they don’t — kick them out.

           2020 cannot come soon enough.      

Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital

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