This article appears in the August 23, 2004, issue of National Review.
Question: What’s the most dangerous place on earth? Answer: Between the trial lawyers and their next billion dollars.
Right now, the man occupying that deadly patch of ground is Daniel Troy, chief counsel to the Food and Drug Administration. In recent weeks, Troy has come under screaming attack in the New York Times and the Denver Post, and on The CBS Evening News. Democrats in the House of Representatives voted (with the Republicans intimidated, or asleep) to slash $500,000 from Troy’s office’s budget. The front page of the Boston Globe cited him as an example of everything that’s wrong with the Bush administration.
Until now, Troy was just one more smart lawyer in a town full of smart lawyers. Suddenly he has found himself the next Robert Bork.
To understand how Troy got into this predicament, you have to begin by mastering one of the basic rules of Washington: When people want to grab really big money, the first thing they do is emit a lot of complicated jargon. They make their issue seem crushingly boring–and then, while the public is yawning and its eyes are glazing over, whoosh: A huge sum of money is suddenly on its way to new owners. The trial lawyers are employing this familiar trick at this very moment. They are presenting their latest scheme as a technical issue of federalism, when it is a gold rush, plain and simple.
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