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I knew that George W’s public approval rating was low – now ranking just above public support for Mad Cow disease – but I hadn’t realized that his name has become so toxic that even lawyers don’t want it mentioned in court.
Harold Lischner, an 82-year-old doctor, was arrested by the police in Upper Darby Township, Pennsylvania, at a Bush campaign event in 2003. Lischner’s “crime” was that he had stood along the driveway leading to the rally with a sign saying “Withdraw our troops from Iraq.” The doctor was charged with disorderly conduct, but was later found not guilty. He then filed a suit against the Township for violating his civil rights.
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Four years later, his case was finally coming to trial when the town’s lawyers suddenly asked the judge to prohibit Lischner and his lawyer from mentioning George W’s name! They argued that Bush is so unpopular that identifying him “in and of itself, presents the danger that the jury will favor [Lischner].”
Then the lawyers went further, asking the judge to prohibit any testimony about the message on Lischner’s protest sign. Not only is the Bush name too hot for the courtroom, they argued, but so is his war. The lawyers said: “It will be sufficient for [Lischner] to testify that he displayed a sign in opposition of a ‘presidential candidate.’” So Lischner was to be restricted to testifying that he displayed an unspecified sign in opposition to a generic political candidate.
No go, ruled the judge, declaring Bush’s identity to be directly relevant to the case. He also ruled that “ the fact that Dr. Lischner’s sign was not blatantly offensive or disrespectful, and certainly not aimed at inciting violence or some other physical disruption, [it] is relevant.”
If Bush sinks any lower in the polls, he’ll have to go around wearing a red wig and sunglasses, with a nametag declaring, “Hi, my name is Mud.”
“Mention the President, Lose a Case?” www.law.com, July 20, 2007