We didn’t hear Rep. Bruce Braley sneering at Sen. Charles Grassley in the widely distributed video that’s igniting campaign discussions.
The video shows Braley pitching attorneys in Texas for campaign support. He tells them that Grassley is certain to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee if Republicans win the Senate. Then Braley warned them this would put a farmer, not a lawyer, running the powerful committee.
We didn’t hear any insult.
We heard a disastrous campaign strategy.
Grassley is more apt to describe himself as an Iowa farmer rather than a career politician. But anyone who’s met with Grassley knows the aw-shucks demeanor masks a dogged legislator who has proven himself an able negotiator, taxpayer defender and probing interrogator during his 33 years in the Senate.
Braley was crazy to suggest to anyone that a lawyer, by training alone, is more capable on that committee. We’re not sure even Texas attorneys bought it.
We know few in Iowa would.
Braley should know better. He’s been demeaned for being a trial lawyer, by some who unfairly equate that term with an opportunistic chiseler. We know trial lawyers perform essential work seeking justice for aggrieved individuals and companies. We think most Iowans intellectually understand it, too.
But in an Iowa popularity contest, trial lawyer wouldn’t even get honorable mention versus a farmer.
It is a useless comparison, even before a group of other trial lawyers. But when Braley made it, he invited the criticism heaped upon him now.
Braley apologized, but there aren’t enough “I’m sorrys” to erase the impression left by the reckless comparison.
Braley wasn’t running against any farmers in his pursuit of retiring Sen. Tom Harkin’s seat.
But he is now.