Any admission from Colin McEnroe, a Courant commentator and host of his own radio show on National Public Radio, “The Colin McEnroe Show,” that he is disposed to vote Republican should be taken, as Mark Twain once said, “with a ton of salt.”
Mr. McEnroe wrote in a December 07, 2012 column, “Searching The Ballot For Worthy Republicans,” that he was “itchin' to vote for a Republican.” And he even provided some tantalizing biographical information: Both of his parents had been Goldwater Republicans. Political obligations to one’s parents, however, rarely survive a Yale education, the fifth commandment having been seriously eroded by sophomore year. Mr. McEnroe noticed that his father had been sliding towards the Democratic heresy at the end. In his later years, his father had “taken to slipping into the voting booth and quietly voting Democrat. I could tell this was happening because he slowly stopped saying anything about politics in front of my mother.”
Around the time he wrote his column, Mr. McEnroe had two rare opportunities to scratch his itch. And so did the Hartford Courant, which multiple times claimed or strongly suggested in its editorials that the GOP should offer up to voters more moderate (read: liberal), pragmatic (read: liberal), non-ideological (read: liberal) Republicans.
Of Ross Garber, then running for attorney general in a Republican Party primary, Mr. McEnroe wrote in his column, “I also would have considered voting for Ross Garber for attorney general, even though I have no significant problems with the Democrat who won, George Jepsen. I think highly of Ross, and I would have been able to say, ‘I do NOT always vote for Democrats. As recently as 2010, I blah-blah woof-woof.’"
Mr. McEnroe was robbed of the opportunity of voting in the general election for a Republican Party attorney general who suited his taste because the Republican Party nominee for attorney general that year was attorney Martha Dean, about whom Mr. McEnroe wrote, “Just the other day I was remarking to my colleague John Dankosky that perhaps we all should have voted for Martha Dean Christian Space Warrior™, because life would have been really exciting and because the state could have written down its debt by selling action figures. But I didn't vote for her because I was afraid to roll the dice on someone who might get the state bogged down in litigation with secular humanist mole people living in tunnels on one of Jupiter's moons.”
The ghost of Mr. McEnroe’s politically active father, not to mention the ghost of his Goldwater supporting mother, could have advised Mr. McEnroe that he might easily have registered as Republican that year so as to have had the pleasure of scratching his itch by voting against the “Christian Space Warrior™” and for his preferred Republican Party candidate, Mr. Garber, in the Republican Party primary. Perhaps that route was too troublesome for Mr. McEnroe; or, as seems more likely, the itch to vote Republican was not very itchy.
Mr. Roraback that year did make it past the Republican Party primary filter to become the GOP’s nominee for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut’s 5th District. Mr. Roraback edged out three other Republican Party U.S. Congressional contestants when Mark Greenberg, since pilloried by Mr. McEnroe, pledged his support to Mr. Roraback, who was without question Mr. McEnroe’s kind of Republican.
In his most recent column, “State Republicans Shouldn't Squander Chances," Mr. McEnroe writes, “The Connecticut GOP's leprous condition leaves too much room for rich guys who don't know what they're talking about and don't seem to care. Yes, Mark Greenberg, I'm looking at you.”
Mr. Roraback was the Courant’s kind of Republican too, uber-liberal on social issues and what has been called in Connecticut a “fiscal conservative” on economic issues. Indeed, Mr. Roraback styled himself during the general campaign a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. On the social issue front, Mr. Roraback’s bona fides were unimpeachable – almost. As noted in Connecticut Commentary, Mr. Roraback’s cousin, Catharine Roraback, “was a civil rights attorney in Connecticut best known for representing Estelle Griswold and Dr. C. Lee Buxton in the famous 1965 Supreme Court case, Griswold v. Connecticut, which legalized the use of birth control and created the precedent of the ‘right to privacy’ later employed by an imaginative Supreme Court to rid the United States of its anti-abortion demons.”
Mr. Roraback had been praised by the Courant in previous editorials for having had a perfect attendance record in the state Senate. He never missed a vote, according to The Register Citizen Papers: ”Since beginning his service in the General Assembly on Jan. 4, 1995, Senator Roraback has cast 7,432 votes and has been present for every vote taken in his 15 legislative sessions.” Mr. Roraback’s score card on social issues was perfect, as noted by the usual left of center rating agencies. And Mr. Roraback had far more political experience under his belt than his Democratic challenger in the 5th District, Elizabeth Esty, the wife of Governor Dannel Malloy’s Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).
The Courant fulsomely endorsed Mr. Roraback over other challengers in the Republican Party primary, noting with some relief that ”Mr. Roraback is a fiscal conservative but not an ideologue” – i.e. not a social conservative.
Yet in the general election, the Courant endorsed Ms. Esty over Mr. Roraback, the Republican Party endorsed candidate embraced by Mr. Greenberg who, according to Mr. McEnroe, “doesn’t know what he’s talking about” and “doesn’t seem to care,” a formulation that, as it rolls off Mr. McEnroe’s tongue, may mean little more than this: “Mr. Greenberg’s political prescriptions for what ails the United States do not correspond to my own.”
The Courant’s general election endorsement of Ms. Esty over Mr. Roraback was soddened with remorse: “… it is hard not to endorse Mr. Roraback. In his 18 years in the legislature, he has been a thoughtful and productive lawmaker with a reputation for hard work and personal integrity. There's no reason to think that wouldn't continue in Washington, should he be elected.”
Mr. McEnroe’s political prescriptions for most large issues affecting the nation are, as always, amusing but amorphous.
Neither the Courant nor Mr. McEnroe will have a future opportunity to scratch their respective itches and endorse or vote for Mr. Roraback as a Republican U.S. Congressional candidate in the 5th District, because some months ago he was appointed by Mr. Malloy as a Superior Court Judge, removing Mr. Roraback as a potential candidate for the U .S. Congress.
Both the Courant and Mr. McEnroe no doubt were pleased with the selection. It eliminated permanently a terribly inconvenient itch.