If this morning you moved your curser over the title of the Hartford Courant editorial, “How Could Rowland Do It Again?” another caption, apparently changed by the paper’s editorial board, appears for an instant: “How Could Rowland Be So Stupid?”
The editorial explores the monumental stupidity of Connecticut’s former governor. Mr. Rowland spent some years in the clinker awhile back, emerged chastened, was embraced by a tight circle of friends in Waterbury – the wide circle of political friends a politician acquires in the course of his career tends to constrict once the prison door slams shut on him – made his way into talk radio, a gadfly position that allowed him to slow broil over the air waves Connecticut’s new progressive vanguard, and seemed to outside observers to have redeemed himself. Mr. Rowland, and others of his now widening circle of political friends, often spoke of his ordeal in redemptory terms.
Now this: “Feds Indict John Rowland.” And the indictment is detailed and damning. The constriction begins. Worse, Mr. Rowland soon will fall into the clawing grasp of amateur psychologists. Mr. Rowland has answered the charges by pleading not guilty, and his lawyer promises an aggressive defense that, presumably, will not involve a plea agreement.
How Could he? Well, you see, it’s like this…
Joseph Pulitzer once said shrewdly that journalists should have no friends, a notion that may be applied more broadly to politicians. When a politician’s ship runs aground, only the politically fervent remain to reassemble the craft. Everyone else -- other than the politician's long suffering wife, his children and his real friends, always willing to overlook political flaws for love’s sake – heads for the exit with his pants on fire.
Said the moth, before he plunged recklessly into the flame, “In moments like this, you know who your real friends are.”
Among Connecticut’s left of center media, Mr. Rowland never had friends, or even well-wishers – for reasons that would have been obvious to Mr. Pulitzer. Political journalists are interested chiefly in the political persona, not the person.
All politicians create their own political personas through what they say and do. And in a one-party left of center state like Connecticut, they are able to create, with little interruption, their own political universe. In the face of that universe, journalists stand asking themselves the question that T.S. Elliot’s Prufrock puts to himself:
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is timeFor decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
So then, here is Mr. Rowland besieged on all sides by those who wish him ill, knives in their teeth, snakes in their hair. And is he cautious? Not at all: He gives the besiegers the key to the front door of the castle, making it absolutely impossible for his family and his small circle of friend to defend the indefensible.
How could he be so stupid?
The attack on WTIC is stupid and indefensible. Among Connecticut journalists, a handful of radio talk show hosts on WTIC have been willing to disturb the state’s left of center political universe. Many journalists in the state are more than happy to co-operate with the present Malloyalist regime; the “friendships” between some reporters and commentators and Connecticut’s left of center hegemon appear to be fairly solid.
Mr. Rowland – It now becomes possible to speak of him in the past tense – certainly was not a conservative. He was a moderate Republican who, as a radio talk show host, belatedly discovered his state was under siege by immoderate progressive extremists mounted on the political heights. Mr. Rowland was well informed enough to contend with some of them, alienating in the process the left of center uncritical commentariat that has for decades twiddled its thumbs while the state plunged into its present downward arc.
Connecticut -- possibly the entire Northeast – is traveling the same route as Venezuela, once the Paris of Latin America, now a backwater state overseen by single party strongmen with knives in their brains. No Pulitzers will be awarded to Venezuela’s media for having disturbed the reigning political universe; all the disturbers of the Venezuelan power structure have been successfully silenced. From under the rubble, always a unique perspective, it becomes possible to note the clay feet of all the tin pot saviors.
In the end, everyone is dispensable: politicians, reporters and commentators, friends of the reigning order, tin-pot political saviors and hegemonic political parties. But the one thing necessary is not dispensable -- liberty is indispensable.