Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Parsing Murphy

‘All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds”
 – Dr. Pangloss in Voltaire’s Candide

Connecticut US Senator Chris Murphy appeared for an interview with Bret Baier of Fox News just as the National Democratic Nominating Convention was reeling from email disclosures that set even fierce Hillary Clinton supporters back on their heels. Mr. Murphy bullied his way through Mr. Baier’s questions but, alas, reality, that annoying spoiler of unreasoned optimism, poked its nose into Mr. Murphy’s tent.

Even as the Dr. Pangloss of Connecticut Democrats was saying that all was the best in the best of all possible Democratic worlds, the convention floor was bursting with rancor and – not too extreme a word – disgust.

The Democratic world had just been shaken by the release of 20,000 emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), some of which appeared to confirm Socialist Bernie Sanders’ notion that the DNC had set its face against his candidacy for President on the Democratic ticket. Mr. Sanders had been assured by DNC head honchoes that the DNC was impartial and indifferent to both Democratic Primary contenders. But the emails showed, rather dramatically, that the far from impartial DNC was scheming against Mr. Sanders.

Following release of the emails, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whom Mr. Sanders had months earlier singled out as especially partisan to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, resigned her position as Chairwoman of the DNC amid hoots and hollers. But this being the best of all possible Democratic worlds, Ms. Schultz was hastily mollified with a new job as the honorary chair of Mrs. Clinton’s 50-state campaign program to help elect Democrats around the country. One wonders whether, at some point in her brave new future, Ms. Schultz may be booed off a Connecticut campaign platform. Will U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal, up for re-election this year, invite Ms. Schultz to campaign for him? Will we find any of Connecticut’s all Democratic U.S. House members – Joe Courtney, Elizabeth Esty, John Larson, Jim Himes or Rosa DeLauro – sharing their campaign platforms with Ms. Schultz?

Some emails showed DNC geniuses holding out political bonbons to favored reporters; others peeled back the veil of Democratic elite racism. Rebecca Christopher, DNC foot soldier, to “Video Vetting,” a Democratic Party propaganda vendor: “Attached is a script for a new video we’d like to use to mop up some more taco bowl engagement, and demonstrate the (sic) Trump actually isn’t trying.”

The excitable Mr. Murphy, Connecticut’s Junior Senator, has had only minimal practice in the fine art of campaign dissimulation; consequently, he is not quite as expert in the field as Mr. Blumenthal, who has had more than twenty years practice wrestling with the media. When Mr. Baier asked Mr. Murphy whether he thought the DNC’s attempt to sabotage Mr. Sanders’ campaign would play out in the general election, Mr. Murphy answered:

“I can tell you in my state, which Hillary Clinton won in a close contest, people made up their minds based on their evaluation of Hillary Clinton as a candidate and Bernie Sanders as a candidate, and nothing that the DNC was doing had anything to do with the decisions that primary voters in my state made. And so, I think this is much to (sic) do about nothing.”

Forget for the moment Mr. Murphy’s Shakespearean misattribution: The title of the Shakespearean play, one of the bard’s most well-known and often produced comedies, is “Much Ado About Nothing.” Focus instead on Mr. Murphy’s inept misdirection. The e-mails that have created such a roiling in the Democratic Party could not have played any role in the Connecticut Democratic Presidential primary because THEY WERE NOT RELEASED UNTIL AFTER THE PRIMARIES HAD CONCLUDED IN CONNECTICUT. Generally, one expects effects to follow causes but in Mr. Murphy’s overly optimistic political science, where all is best in this the best of all possible worlds, effects may be expected to precede causes.

In Mr. Murphy’s own case, neither effects nor causes may disturb his future re-election prospects. Mr. Murphy is not up for reelection for two long years, a black hole in space that can consume whole worlds of ineptitude. Or, as Mr. Murphy put it to Mr. Baier, “Listen, I think first of all, we have to understand that conventions are for insiders … What happens here and what happens in Philadelphia, it’s interesting for you and I; it’s interesting for people that pay attention to politics, but it’s really not what ultimately makes up people’s minds.”

Translation: Voters are not much interested in conventions or political promises or e-mails that at some golden time in American politics might have sunk a whole flotilla of politicians. We now determine the political narrative. People think what we want them to think. The old times may have been good, but they are over. The future will be the best of all possible worlds because that is the way we have pictured it in our minds. Reality is tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, to quote Shakespeare. And tomorrow is an empty vessel we fill with our delicious, irresistible political elixirs.
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