IA Dem: Hey, you don’t want some farmer in charge of the Judiciary Committee, do you?

posted at 9:21 am on March 26, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

If anyone wonders why political candidates don’t want recording devices present in private fundraising pitches, here’s Exhibit B. (Exhibit A was Mitt Romney’s “47%” remarks.) Bruce Braley wanted cash from trial lawyers to help boost his chances of holding Tom Harkin’s seat for Democrats in November as part of the effort to keep Republicans from taking control of the Senate. Otherwise, Braley warned his fellow members of the bar, his efforts to block tort reform would get blocked by Chuck Grassley, who would become the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee if the GOP took over. And that would just leave some dumb farmer who never went to law school in charge, rather than a smart lawyer.

And hey, the state of Iowa is filled with smart lawyers, right? Right? Er …

Slate’s John Dickerson calls this the Gaffe of the Year, one so powerful that”the Environmental Protection Agency may seek to regulate it.” How awful is it? Let Dickerson “count the ways”:

Why is this so awful? Let us count the ways. Iowa is a farm state, and it’s never a good idea to disparage one of the state’s chief occupations. Next, it’s particularly not a good idea to demean your state when you’re somewhere else: In this case, Braley was speaking in Texas. Next, Braley, a trial lawyer, was making his pitch to a room full of trial lawyers at a private fundraiser (which is why he didn’t think he was being recorded). Trial lawyers are perhaps the most unpopular constituency among Republican base voters—besides Obama administration officials. Since midterm elections are all about motivating your base, Braley has given his opponent a turnout gift. Next, look where Braley is standing: If you’re going to talk down to Iowa farmers, at least don’t do it next to a table of booze. It makes for amusing viewing and that reinforces the idea for voters that you’re not one of them.

Dickerson says to expect more of this, thanks to the declining cost and space of recording technology:

Braley’s gaffe is the result of both the rise of money in campaigns and the ubiquity of technology. Candidates must raise more and more money—the average amount spent to win House and Senate races has doubled in 12 years—which means more and more evenings by the bar cart straining for money. Since technology is everywhere and cameras are small and always on (see: 47 percent), it also means there will be more opportunities to broadcast candidates when they are saying anything to get elected.

Well maybe, but this seems to be a rather extreme case. Not only is this a strange example of snobbery for a man running for office in a farm state, the argument itself is nonsense. Grassley has been on the Judiciary Committee for the entirety of his Senate career — and he’s in his sixth term in the Senate. He’s clearly experienced enough to run the Senate committee. Even if Grassley can’t argue at the bar himself, the American political system wasn’t designed to have lawyers writing laws for lawyers but citizens writing laws to govern themselves.

Now, one can argue that six terms in the Senate is an issue in and of itself, but that wasn’t Braley’s argument, and he’s not running against Grassley anyway. Braley was attempting to sell the election on behalf of trial lawyers. That may not be terribly unusual, but we rarely get to see an example this brazen.

Braley tried apologizing for the slam against farmers:

“I apologize to Senator Grassley and anyone I may have offended,” he said. “I respect Senator Grassley and enjoy our working relationship, even though we disagree on some issues.

He also noted he has supported policies that benefit Iowa farmers.

“My parents both grew up on Iowa farms during the Great Depression,” Braley said. “It deeply influenced who they are and who I am, and gave me a profound appreciation for what farmers do for the world. One of my grandfathers was a charter member of the Iowa Farm Bureau. I grew up in rural Iowa, doing farm jobs and working a grain elevator.

“I have tremendous respect for Iowa farmers and appreciate how important they are to our state, and I’m grateful to have the support of hundreds of farmers across Iowa,” he continued.

Hey, some of his best friends are farmers! Just don’t put them in charge, or anything.


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John Adams. Lawyer and Farmer.

hawkdriver on March 26, 2014 at 12:00 PM

It’s good to have some lawyers in CONgress. But only a few, cause they really tend to get out of hand screwing up legislation when there are too many of ‘em. More farmer representation would be just dandy to keep the lawyers in check.

hawkeye54 on March 26, 2014 at 12:07 PM

“You don’t want some farmer with no law degree in charge”, spoken to a bunch of lawyers, in just about any race, is a gaffe by itself.

“You don’t want some farmer with no law degree in charge”, in an Iowa Senate race, and spoken to a bunch of lawyers, is probably enough to qualify for gaffe of the year.

“You don’t want some farmer from Iowa with no law degree in charge”, in an Iowa Senate race, and spoken to a bunch of out of state lawyers, is at least enough for gaffe of the decade.

RINO in Name Only on March 26, 2014 at 12:16 PM

I happen to have a great deal of respect for farmers, exceptionally hard working and rather creative problem solvers. Not a bad choice for any committee.

JusDreamin on March 26, 2014 at 12:16 PM

What a surprise – A Democrat demonstrating arrogance, elitism, contempt, and a willingness to shill / say anything in order to protect an arrogant, elitist, contemptuous group of people who seek to use government power for their own ends.

At what point did government service entail stop providing service for the people and start being subservient to elitist special interests?

Because of all that is wrong with government today – this is what we have to fix first. The people don’t exist to serve government or their special interest puppetmasters. Government is supposed to exist to serve the needs of all of the people.

Athos on March 26, 2014 at 12:34 PM

Its a rigged game.

Lawyers argue the law.

Lawyers judge the law.

Lawyers make the law.

Law of, by and for lawyers.

Perhaps having a law degree should exclude lawyers from a couple of other parts of the equation, particularly making the law, so that regular people can get a say in this.

ajacksonian on March 26, 2014 at 12:34 PM

Iowa is not a farm state per se. It is a farm subsidy state.

antisense on March 26, 2014 at 12:41 PM

ONLY in a room full of lawyers is blocking tort reform a good thing.

One of the biggest problems we have is that so many congressmen and senators are lawyers.

One of the biggest problems with that is that they block tort reform.

Annielou on March 26, 2014 at 12:43 PM

No, we don’t need some hard working common sense bumpkin to have a say now do we? Just lawyers and “educated” elites, they are the REAL America.

I do believe some of the founders were mere farmers. What a D-bag

Farnsworth on March 26, 2014 at 12:51 PM

This race just turned into a gimme putt for the Republicans as long as they don’t jack it up. Iowa’s a bluish state, but it remains very blue collar and proud of its rural, farming heritage.

I’ll be watching for the ads here in Omaha (Omaha’s media market includes the western quarter of Iowa). I know it’s still the primary season, but the Iowa GOP would be insane to not bury him with this now before he has a chance to throw on a pair of overalls and get behind a pair of oxen and a plow.

LukeinNE on March 26, 2014 at 12:54 PM

it’s particularly not a good idea to demean your state when you’re somewhere else:

Ask the Dixie Chicks about how well their careers are going after bad mouthing the USA while in Britain.

neyney on March 26, 2014 at 12:59 PM

Y’all ever notice that a whole bunch of these Dems are coming to Texas to raise money? How ironic. They have to come here because we are doing so well under a REPUBLICAN administration that we have all the money.

neyney on March 26, 2014 at 1:09 PM

How to spot a fake apology: when the idiot in question says “I’m sorry IF I offended you,” or “I apologize to everyone I MAY have offended.” That’s not an honest or sincere apology. It’s not an admission of guilt. It’s pretty much hedging a bet and trying to smooth things over.

RockinRickOwen on March 26, 2014 at 1:40 PM

Hey, you don’t want some farmer in charge of the Judiciary Committee, do you?
Well actually, that is exactly what the framers had in mind.

pgrossjr on March 26, 2014 at 1:43 PM

Y’all ever notice that a whole bunch of these Dems are coming to Texas to raise money? How ironic. They have to come here because we are doing so well under a REPUBLICAN administration that we have all the money.

neyney on March 26, 2014 at 1:09 PM

I figured it was because Texas Dems know that financially supporting a Texas Dem for Senate is a waste of money, so the only way they can get friends in high places is to buy them from other states.

CJ on March 26, 2014 at 1:53 PM

This reminds me of Obama’s (should have been politically fatal) comment about gun clingers and bible thumpers or something.

Don L on March 26, 2014 at 2:53 PM

Iowa is not a farm state per se. It is a farm subsidy state.

antisense on March 26, 2014 at 12:41 PM

Sadly, if Braley survives this and is elected to the Senate, this will likely be the main reason why.

Democrat = more subsidies!

djm1992 on March 26, 2014 at 3:16 PM

Once upon a time, I worked for a Farm Cooperative. Now, that doesn’t make me a farmer, but I did get to meet a lot of farmers and they are not stupid or ignorant people. If anyone believes it’s easy to grow anything, let them go out and try, you really have to be pretty darn smart to farm and make a buck at it.

I’m amazed at a couple of things. First, he felt free and open to make that statement, just because he didn’t believe no one was recording it. I wonder what else he thinks when no one else is listening. Secondly, the line about his parents and him having a profound appreciation for what farmers do, how did what he said demonstrate that?

bflat879 on March 26, 2014 at 6:41 PM

Why is this a gaffe? He meant every word he said.
Skwor on March 26, 2014 at 9:33 AM

Gaffe (noun): when a politician accidentally tells the truth.

Wethal on March 26, 2014 at 7:18 PM

And this broke on 3/25/14, the centenary of the greatest Iowa farmer of them all, Norman Borlaug, who that very day was being honored in the Capitol as a statue of him was being unveiled and dedicated. Grassley and Harkin were there. It was also National Agriculture Day.Even Vilsack honored Borlaug in his Ag Day remarks.

Nice work, Braley.

Missy on March 26, 2014 at 7:55 PM

Well, after all, this is a nation, of the lawyers, for the lawyers, and by the lawyers, right?

Maybe not what the founders had in mind, but it is pretty durn accurate nowadays.

s1im on March 26, 2014 at 9:25 PM

A real conservative, multi skilled, extremely qualified,Patriot will thump this idiot good, SamClovis.com vs this:
Copied from Bruce Braley for Senate Page:
About Me
“I’ve been married for 25 years to a beautiful woman that I first met at an Eagles concert in 1976. The home screen on my cell phone says, “Be a good Dad” to remind me of my most important job. My sons, David and Paul, think I will finally be “somebody” when I’m a guest on the Colbert Report.

I won the Pinewood Derby while a Cub Scout in Brooklyn, Iowa. My first job was delivering the Des Moines Tribune when I was in second grade. Most people don’t know that I was a walk-on for the Iowa State football team in 1977, or that I once played Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls and Tony in West Side Story. My mother, Marcia Braley, has been teaching in Iowa for nearly 50 years. I started a scholarship fund for injured workers and their families to honor my father, who died in 1981 and had suffered a severe work-related injury when I was two.”

Gravitas we much? HaHaHaHaHaHabwhaHaHaHaHaHaHa!

ConcealedKerry on March 26, 2014 at 9:41 PM

(Exhibit A was Mitt Romney’s “47%” remarks.)

Gee, I guess the main difference here was that Romney’s remarks were right…as opposed to self-serving. Thus, I never considered that a gaffe.

AUINSC on March 26, 2014 at 10:57 PM

Hey, you don’t want some farmer in charge of the Judiciary Committee, do you?
Well actually, that is exactly what the framers had in mind.

pgrossjr on March 26, 2014 at 1:43 PM

I knew there was a reason I like those old dead guys! This is the main one.

Government of the people, for the people.

What an arrogant ass of an lawyer.

Registered Nic on March 26, 2014 at 11:33 PM

When you have only lawyers making laws, you end up with laws only lawyers can understand.

Which is great for lawyers, more business for them; but for everyone else expected to follow laws designed not to be understandable by the people…not do great.

Unless your view is that the legislative system should be used solely to make more work for lawyers; laws need to be made by non-lawyers so non-lawyers can understand them.

gekkobear on March 27, 2014 at 12:49 AM

Was this guy having a party? That’s a lot of booze in the background.

Cindy Munford on March 27, 2014 at 3:02 AM

I’ve dealt with dishonest farmers and honest lawyers.

And in both cases they were the exception.

jmad on March 27, 2014 at 5:45 AM

Most of our nation’s founders were farmers/planters. I would say we need fewer lawyers and some serious tort and tax law reform.

SC.Charlie on March 27, 2014 at 1:05 PM

Gaffe of the year? It would be if…

SAMinVA on March 27, 2014 at 4:45 PM

Nuclear-grade stupidity of this flatulence can only come from a Democrat lawyer.

Jaibones on March 28, 2014 at 6:27 PM

Who is this jackass running against?

Jaibones on March 28, 2014 at 6:29 PM

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