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Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Spinners spun by sharks, but transcript scrapes scales from Senator's sockets

Who ya gonna believe?  Your own lyin' eyes and a transcript, or your high-priced lawyer from Washington?

Texas Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston) did something smart this past weekend:   He read the actual transcript of last week's hearing before US District Judge George P. Kazen in Laredo in the Voting Rights Act lawsuit in which Sen. Whitmire is one of the co-plaintiffs.

What can I say, Senator?  You coulda just read BeldarBlog on the Internet from Albuquerque!

My poor, loyal dog just thought I was having a heart attack.  She was switching into her "Lassie-go-get-help" barking and scratching-at-the-door mode because I was laughing so hard that I was doubled up and gasping for air. 

Here's the just-posted report from the Houston Chronicle that did it to me:

While in Houston, Whitmire read the transcript of a federal court hearing on the Democrats' voting rights lawsuit.

Though the Democrats portrayed U.S. District Judges George P. Kazen's decision last week to send the case to a three-judge panel as a victory, Whitmire found the transcript troubling.

In it, Kazen said the case had little merit.

But the Democrats' lawyers told their clients the news was good, Whitmire said.

"Somebody really did one on us," he said. "We were told in no uncertain terms to be optimistic."

Reporters were allowed to listen in on a teleconference call between the lawyers and the senators last week in which the lawyers gave a rosy view of the judge's statements. The lawyers and senators also talked behind closed doors.

Gerry Hebert, one of the lawyers, declined to respond to Whitmire's complaint.

I'm a frankly a little surprised that the press accounts hadn't tipped Sen. Whitmire off to begin with.   But Sen. Whitmire, despite being a lawyer himself, evidently got caught up in the enthusiasm of some lawyers trying to put the best face on a very bad situation. 

Of course, inviting reporters in to hear the post-hearing report from the Dems' lawyers was an extraordinary farce.  Doing so absolutely destroys attorney-client privilege, and thus ensures that you are not going to hear your trial lawyer's candid advice in his distinct capacity as your private counselor, but instead that you'll continue to hear your lawyer in full-blown (non-objective) advocate-mode.  Lawyer Hebert had already found his way to the TV cameras that morning to engage in a bit of the Politics of Personal Destruction with respect to one of his own (Janet Reno-promoted) successors at DOJ, so perhaps the spin RPMs were just too high to wind down from in whatever private discussions he and his fellow sharks had with the Truant Texas Dems™.

But once out of the New Mexico highlands — with the benefit of Houston's warm August breezes off the Gulf, lightly scented with the petrochemical perfume that means "home" and "commerce" to all of us who live here — apparently Sen. Whitmire had no trouble reading both the text and the subtext of Judge Kazen's comments in the full transcript from the hearing.  As I blogged last week after reading the same transcript, Judge Kazen's actual remarks were even less encouraging than the way they were reported in the popular press.  And as interpreted by anyone with much courtroom experience, the only question would be whether you'd pick the term "catastrophic" or "apocalyptic" as most apt to describe the subtext.

Meanwhile, in the "30 years in the Legislature but what have you done for me lately?" category, we have this report from tomorrow's Dallas Morning News:

Several Democrats ridiculed [Sen.] Whitmire at a news conference.

"We've had enough of powerful, special interests, and we've had enough of puppets and liars," said Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo.

[Sen. Eliot] Shapleigh [(D-El Paso)] alluded to Democrats' suspicion that Mr. Whitmire stands to gain personally or politically from his move.

"I have no doubt that he will be rewarded upon his return to Austin by those whom he serves," Mr. Shapleigh said.

This reminds me of a crazed, frenzied animal gnawing off its own leg to escape the teeth of a steel trap.  Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure the Ten Truant Texas Dems™ (at last! my alliterative impulses are satisfied!) are gnawing off the wrong leg.

Posted by Beldar at 10:27 PM in Texas Redistricting | Permalink


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