Linda McMahon may or may not win her campaign to replace Senator Joe Lieberman in the U.S. Congress. Everyone agrees that her race with media favorite Chris Murphy is a close one. Although it is a presidential election year, Barack Obama appears to have lost some of his luster since his last election, his coattails having been clipped by four years in office during which the recovery promised by the president has yet to surface. The latest Gallup poll shows the president trailing Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney by seven points, not a propitious sign.
If Mrs. McMahon is elected to the U.S. Senate, her critics in Connecticut – pretty nearly every commentator in the state – will put down her win to dollars spent. In this regard, Mrs. McMahon is the exception in Connecticut.
All the seats in the state’s congressional delegation are held by Democrats who are able, by virtue of their incumbency, to outspend Republicans by indecent margins. Senator John Larson of the impregnable 1st District routinely outspends his Republican opponents; and until recently Rosa DeLauro, like U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal a millionaire, has effectively sidestepped her Republican opponent, Wayne Winsley.
When Mrs. McMahon lost to Democratic superstar Blumenthal, her critics were quick to point out that the $50 million misspent by Mrs. McMahon could not purchase an election. Dollars, it was said, didn’t matter. Assuming a win, Mrs. McMahon’s critics this time will insist that she bought her Senate seat on the cheap by flooding the state with ads that personally attacked her Democratic opponent, who in the past had some difficulty in paying his rent and later his mortgage; no big thing, happens all the time said editorials endorsing Mr. Murphy.
Finally, her critics will insist that Mrs. McMahon has no mandate to govern because she refused to engage during her campaign on important issues of the day, choosing instead to cling feverishly to a narrow campaign message forged by her handlers.
Mrs. McMahon may have picked up this trick from Mr. Blumenthal who during the final days of his campaign, following disclosures that the attorney general had lied several times concerning his non-service in Vietnam – no big thing – sedulously avoided his critics. Mr. Blumenthal’s entire senatorial campaign was a reprise of his glory days as Connecticut’s suit happy Attorney General, a public persona he finds it convenient to maintain as U. S. Congressman; as senator and the nation’s premier congressional consumer advocate, Mr. Blumenthal now is toying with a bill that would affect advertising for scooter chairs.
There is some justice to this last charge brought against Mrs. McMahon. The first rule of politics for Republicans running in a reliably blue state is this: If you don’t give the jackals red meat – say in the form of a carefully crafted position paper on President Barack Obama’s murderously inept foreign policy blundering in Benghazi – the servants of the status quo in the state, who are legion, will sup on the marrow of your bones. Better to give them the red meat.
Mrs. McMahon easily might have avoided the presumption that she is light-headed on congressional matters by a few carefully thought out speeches on a) the economy, b) foreign policy and c) a topic of her own choice that might have thrown some light on her fitness to serve in what has been called, before it descended into a campaign Ponzi scheme constructed in Chicago, the greatest deliberative body on earth.
Both Mrs. McMahon and Mr. Murphy have become prisoners of their handlers. Mr. Murphy’s entire campaign bears the imprint of a “made in Chicago” mafia hit: Republicans hate women; Mrs. McMahon is morally destitute; crony capitalism directed from the White House will lift both the country and Connecticut from imminent ruin; the cure for bottomless debt is more Beltway spending; taxes should be increased on quarter millionaires to pay for improvident spending; salafists can be our friends, provided we lather them sufficiently with diplomatic kowtows and saccharine speeches concerning the brotherhood of man; bills passed on to creditors and young people expected to pick up the tab for bankrupted national programs will never come due; Wall Street alone caused the Bush economic collapse – all juvenile nonsense designed to spare the human brain the necessity of critical thought.
Convinced – not without reason – that Connecticut’s left of center media had iced the political sidewalk hoping for a an embarrassing pratfall on matters of little importance, Mrs. McMahon shut the door on the media during her primary run against former U.S. Representative Chris Shays. Money in that race was crucial; Mr. Shays hadn’t enough on hand to challenge Mrs. McMahon vigorously, and he made a serious error in judgment when he declined to ask delegates to the Republican Convention in Hartford to support him. Mrs. McMahon opened the door a crack during her debates with Mr. Murphy and agreed to talk with the editorial board of a major newspaper that in all probability will endorse Mr. Murphy.
As a result of all this, Connecticut citizens are left with anti-campaigns directed by political outliers who certainly will not bear the consequences of their efforts. The buck, as usual, will fall most heavily on the general populace, which is what happens when democratic institutions suffer irreversible breakdowns.