He of the thin skin

The SE Texas Record Oct. 27, 2007, 7:00am

Wealthy Corpus Christi plaintiff's lawyer Mikal Watts says he isn't running for U.S. Senate anymore.

That's too bad. We were looking forward to Texans getting to examine a real-life mega-millionaire plaintiff's attorney, up close and personal.

That alone-- his campaign to win the nomination to challenge incumbent U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R) and the resulting counter-attack-- would have been some public service.

We so often hear the names and see the dollar signs of these court-created lawyer-tycoons. We see their faces and hear their snappy slogans on television, but we rarely get much more than that, and by design.

When you describe yourself as a magnanimous warrior for the working man, you don't want the working man to know you once spent $1 million on a holiday party, ferreting 300 guests on a chartered 737 jet to a fancy Mexican golf resort.

When you oppose tort reform and claim Texas' civil justice system is fair and balanced, you don't want it to leak that you once threatened a defendant that they had better settle a $60 million personal injury lawsuit with you, because your firm had made "heavy" campaign donations to justices on the appellate court, "all of whom are good Democrats."

And when you suggest plaintiff's lawyers get a bad rap and earn an honest living, it helps that you haven't accepted campaign donations and case leads from Mauricio Celis, a recently-exposed impostor-lawyer under investigation for his "runner ambulance-chasing referral organization" in South Texas.

Plaintiff's lawyers like Watts aren't used to going under the microscope themselves. They specialize in putting others on the defensive, excoriating their targets-- corporations, doctors and executives-- as alternately greedy, hypocritical or self-interested.

In the courtroom, this is a tough fantasy to challenge. But in the political arena, it's darn easy. For one thing, the other side pushes back. And they do so not with careful corporate defense lawyers working from their heels, but aggressive professional advocates keen to stay on the offensive.

That's why we grow our politicians so tough here in Texas. Thick skin and a resilient ego are universally required.

Mikal Watts likes to dish it out but cannot take it. He obviously doesn't qualify.

We wish he did. It would have been an exciting ride.

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