Lee Whitnum of Greenwich, running for the U.S. Senate seat that soon will be vacated by Joe Lieberman, is not likely ever to be mistaken for Mr. Lieberman.
In the course of a Democratic debate with other candidates vying for the seat, Ms. Whitnum told moderator Gerry Brooks of NBC Connecticut that she would have to amend her prepared closing statement just a bit, after which she tailspinned into language the normally quiescent Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo later would call inappropriate: “I believe she crossed the line of inappropriateness.”
Gesturing toward U.S. Representative Chris Murphy on her left, Ms. Whitnum said, “I'm dealing with [a] whore here, who sells his soul to AIPAC [American Israeli Public Affairs Committee], who will say anything for the job," and then turning to her right and indicating State Rep. William Tong, she fired yet another bazooka, slamming Mr. Tong as “ignorant.”
It does not take much to bait Ms. Whitnum on all things Israel. About mid-way through their debate, Ms. Whitnum argued that the costs of conflict [in the Middle East] had dramatically weakened the U.S. economy. The connection between America’s failing economy and the country’s traditional support of Israel was clear to anyone who had studied the issue, said Ms. Whitnum. And then, tiptoeing toward the shear precipice, she added that such was obvious unless “you stick your head in the sand like Congressman Murphy ... because he drinks the AIPAC Kool-Aid."
Mr. Murphy replied, “Israel needs friends today now more than ever. Should we stand for this kind of outlandish language about Jewish Americans who stand up for their homeland?"
Thus baited, Ms. Whitnum hastily redrafted her concluding statement.Cornered by the media at the end of the debate, Ms. Whitnum acknowledged that she had gone a bit too far but shrank from offering an apology to Mr. Murphy, a prisoner, one would suppose from Ms. Whitnum’s description, of both AIPAC and neo-conservative propaganda. Mr. Murphy is featured in some pro-Murphy campaign literature as a progressive, and progressives are, almost by definition, not neo-conservative fellow travelers.
AIPAC describes itself as “a 100,000-member grassroots movement of activists committed to ensuring Israel’s security and protecting American interests in the Middle East and around the world.” AIPAC, to be sure, is not everyone’s cup of tea, but lobbying groups have not yet been outlawed in the United States. The American Friends of the Middle East and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, both of which are perfectly capable of plying their wares in the U.S. Congress, are considered by some as anti-Israeli lobbying groups. And, of course, Democratic politicians in the United States opposed to President George Bush’s intervention in Iraq are too numerous to mention. Ms. Whitum is little more than one head in the crowd.
Ms. Whitum’s threadbare debate manners did not advance her arguments a whit, and Mr. Murphy emerged from the verbal fisticuffs with his pro-Israeli halo undented. Not a bad showing, on the whole, for Israel, Mr. Murphy, AIPAC and neo-conservatives, all of whom should remember Ms. Whitum in their prayers.
Lost amidst all the noise was Susan Bysiewicz progressive effect on Mr. Murphy, who has decided that American troops should be withdrawn from Afghanistan post haste, a shift in position characterized by Ms. Bysiewicz, according to a report in the Journal Inquirer as a move made by Mr. Murphy to bring himself more in line with progressive voters. The repositioning, said a Bysiewicz spokesman, also brings Mr. Murphy closer to Ms. Bysiewicz, who apparently did not mind the cuddling.
Borrowing a page from the playbook of President Barack Obama, Ms. Bysiewicz has focused on hedge fund managers as the latest threat to the Republic. Fairfield Connecticut’s Gold Coast is paved with golden heggie bricks, and Ms. Bysiewicz intends to mine some of these untapped riches as soon as she alights in Washington D.C. Like Connecticut, the national pocket book is tapped out. Someone has to man-up and pay for the nation’s spending spree, which unsurprisingly has resulted in liabilities. By 2015, the national debt will hit $24.5 trillion; unfunded liabilities are estimated at $144 trillion, roughly $1.2 million per taxpayer.
One of the questions not generally asked of Democratic contenders in Connecticut who hope to replace Mr. Lieberman in Washington is: By how much do you plan to reduce spending once your ambitions are crowned with success? Soliciting from opposing camps questions that might be put to primary debaters certainly would make for a more interesting multi-lateral conversation.