Monday, April 07, 2014

Malloy On The Stump, An Orwellian Perspective

A few weeks after announcing he would not officially begin his campaign until the General Assembly had shut down its short three month session in May, Governor Dannel Malloy officially opened his gubernatorial campaign in Stamford, his old political stomping grounds. Mr. Malloy had been mayor of Stamford for four four-year terms before becoming governor.

In Stamford, Mr. Malloy explained his “early” announcement to reporters who long ago had exploded the absurdity that he was not running for governor. He had in fact been campaigning behind the veil for some time; like his counterpart in the beltway, President Barack Obama, Mr. Malloy is a perpetual campaigner. And like most politicians, he is given to telling what Mark Twain used to call “stretchers.”

The Stamford Advocate reported on the switcheroo:

“Malloy said that, in part, his rationale for waiting to make his re-election effort official was to avoid distractions during his recent successful effort to get the General Assembly to enact legislation to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

"’I didn't want to politicize that issue unduly,’ Malloy said. ‘I talked to Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman several times about when is the right time to start the campaign, and this seemed like the right time.’"

The General Assembly, some reporters know, is Mr. Malloy’s Pomeranian, the Connecticut legislature having been dominated by Democrats ages ago, long before some of the state’s younger reporters were wetting their diapers. Perhaps one of them is keeping a record of Mr. Malloy’s politically opportune fantasies. If so, he or she will understand the full import of George Orwell’s remark that “To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle.”

In an essay that ought to be required reading in all journalism schools titled “Under Your Nose,” Mr. Orwell wrote:

“The point is that we are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: The only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.”

Mr. Malloy’s official Stamford announcement gave Mr. Malloy the opportunity to stop road testing his campaign and launch his vehicle.

Mr. Malloy’s 2014 campaign appears to be a replication of President Barack Obama 2012 presidential campaign. Connecticut has been battered by a rough economic climate, Mr. Malloy told the Democratic in Stamford. He was careful not to draw the connection between Connecticut’s sluggish economy and Obamanomics. Hey, sluggish economies happen. The national recession ended in 2009. However, about three in five jobs added since the recession’s end pay less than $13.83 per hour. Lower-wage occupations were 21 percent of recession losses and 58 percent of recovery growth, while mid-wage occupations were 60 percent of recession losses and only 22 percent of recovery growth. Connecticut still lags behind the nation in job growth. As of August 2013, the New England Economic Partnership (NEEP) reported, “Connecticut had regained 62,200 jobs, or 51.3% of those lost. By comparison, the U.S. economy had recovered 78.2% of the 8.6 million recession jobs that it lost.”

During his first term as president, Mr. Obama commanded the heights: The presidency and both houses of Congress had fallen to Democrats. Instead of focusing the energies of his office on repairing the collapsed housing market – which would have been a painful ordeal for the progressive president – Mr. Obama reached for the stars and pulled Obamacare out of his hat. He also engaged in corporate cronyism on a massive scale and managed to pull off a win against moderate Republican Mitt Romney by capturing the “social issues” battleground from which Republicans had retreated with their tails between their legs.

Mr. Malloy’s campaign strategy may be deduced from the remarks he made in Stamford. The Malloy program no doubt has been laboratory tested by one of the many strategy groups in the business of winning campaigns. Global Strategy, whose Vice President Roy Occhiogrosso continued to speak in news reports in favor of Mr. Malloy long after he had disassociated himself from the Malloy administration, likely will play some behind the curtain role in Mr. Malloy’s re-election effort. But as governor of a northeast progressive state, Mr. Malloy will be able to draw upon a vast reservoir of political magicians, some tied by progressive political umbilical cords to the Obama administration, many of which are not formally associated with political parties.

In Stamford, Mr. Malloy said that Connecticut’s economy was on the mend, largely owing to his programs. Connecticut’s pre-Malloy “$3.6 billion deficit, the greatest deficit in the nation on a per-capita basis," has been liquidated. In fact, the deficit has been resilient to Mr. Malloy’s ministrations.

Connecticut’s non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis (OFA) and the Governor's budget office, the Office of Policy and Management (OPM), have both projected a deficit of about $1 billion in the next 2016 biennial budget

Mr. Malloy reduced a major portion of his “inherited deficit” through the imposition of the largest tax increase in state history, a $1.5 billion tax on entrepreneurs and business people who might have used the dollars appropriated by a Democratic Governor and a Democratic dominated General Assembly to invigorate Connecticut’s painfully slow, nearly jobless recovery.

Mr. Malloy’s tax increase was not mentioned during his re-election stump speech in Stamford, which is on a par with offering a history of the Elizabethan period in Britain that does not mention Queen Elizabeth. Neither did Mr. Malloy mention that Republican Governors Jodi Rell and John Rowland did not have at their command a Republican dominated General Assembly. Although it is the legislature that shapes and affirms budgets presented to it by the executive office, Mr. Malloy was content in his Stamford re-election announcement to lay at Mrs. Rell’s feet the debt he inherited. Mrs. Rell is likely to play in Mr. Malloy’s coming campaign the same opĂ©ra bouff role played by outgoing President George Bush in Mr. Obama’s first – and second – presidential campaigns.

Mr. Orwell noted in his “Under Your Nose” essay that political fantasies eventually bump into reality, at which point, usually too late, those who have been lulled to sleep awaken with truth-blistered eyes:

“In private life most people are fairly realistic. When one is making out one's weekly budget, two and two invariably make four. Politics, on the other hand, is a sort of sub-atomic or non-Euclidean world where it is quite easy for the part to be greater than the whole or for two objects to be in the same place simultaneously. Hence the contradictions and absurdities I have chronicled above, all finally traceable to a secret belief that one's political opinions, unlike the weekly budget, will not have to be tested against solid reality.”

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