Friday, March 05, 2010

A Blumenthal-Schiff Cage Match

A debate card featuring Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, now running for the U.S. Senate seat Chris Dodd intends to vacate at the end of his term, and Peter Schiff, Connecticut’s economic Cassandra, would be far more interesting than the debate concluded March 1 between Blumenthal and incrementalist averse Merrick Alpert.

Debates that include candidates on fire always are spectacles worth our time. Americans, certainly more often than the British, tend to confuse passion with authenticity, and there is little doubt that Alpert was, in his debate with Blumenthal, a man aflame. Perhaps fortunately for the attorney general, Blumenthal may not have to debate Alpert again.

When the Republican debate rolled around at the university a day later, media adepts who had been expecting rhetorical fisticuffs between senatorial hopefuls Linda McMahon and Rob Simmons, both of whom had been peppering each other with e-mails and press releases, were disappointed and deflated. They had been expecting Thermopylae and got instead, as one commentator put it, “a snoozer of a debate.”

It was generally agreed by commentators who had packed away their telltale preferences for the duration of the debates that Alpert won his and Schiff won his, both having been pronounced more authentic than their plasticine opponents. One commentator, an ardent progressive, confessed he found Schiff’s honesty refreshing, though he was anguished by his message.

Schiff is a man on fire. The calculating Blumenthal is very much like Sen. Joe Lieberman, sometimes called the Hamlet of the U.S. Senate. Hamlet was thought to be too thoughtful for his own good. But in the end, not an advocate of incrementalism, he turned out to be a decisive man of action and an accomplished murderer.

In the presence of Schiff, and perhaps some other Republicans, Blumenthal would not be able to get away with asserting, as he did in the Merrick debate, that the litigatory actions of his office “actually create jobs, because businesses actually welcome competition and a level playing field.”

To pick up on just one point, it is folly to think that businesses would appreciate the way Blumenthal has used fatally defective affidavits to secure from judges in ex parte proceedings the authority to seize the business assets of companies that find themselves on the wrong end of Blumenthal’s constitutionally disruptive litigation. While Blumenthal’s senatorial narrative is centered on the black dealings of large, greedy, socially semi-conscious and unscrupulous companies, such as lung damaging tobacco giants, a partial listing of corporations in which the plaintiff has had an AG appearance from January 07 to the present  contains upwards of 900 entrees.

In the Merrick debate, Blumenthal intended to speak over the head of his opponent to an audience that would vote for him the general election. His narrative was carefully crafted to this purpose.

Merrick threw a wrench into the narrative by insisting that Blumenthal’s backing of President Barack Obama’s venture in Afghanistan was a) too expensive at a time when federal dollars might better be devoted to knotty domestic problems, and b) Bush-like in its wrong-headedness.

Blumenthal was flustered by Alpert's charge that he was a prevaricator at a time when the entire country was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, an accusation that easily could be launched at Blumenthal from the Republican side by Schiff, whose solutions to the malingering recession are, Schiff insists, painful but effective and necessary.

Like most regulators and redistributists, Blumenthal has a tough time wrapping his brain around the notion that an increase in distribution levels cannot occur in when the revenue to be distributed is on the downslide, usually the case in recessions and mini-depressions. When there is no soup in the soup kitchen, it is idle to speak of distributing soup to the poor – or to anyone else. Neither does Blumenthal understand that a complex ever changing regulatory apparatus introduces uncertainty into business activity that results in depressed markets, or he would not have insisted, laughably, that his suits have the effect of increasing business in the state.

This is the worst kind of hokum, far more dangerous in its effects than the peculations of politicians like Tammany Hall chief George Washington Plunkett or, coming closer to the heart of the 21st century, his modern equivalent, U.S. Rep. Charlie Rangel, who appears to have received a temporary indulgence from madam Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi.

A cage match between Schiff and Blumenthal might even wake up the commentators in Connecticut’s media who think wrestling matches are real rather than highly scripted staged events.
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