Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Connecticut’s Cowardly Lions

Looking forward past the gravitational pull of the current election season, what do we expect of Connecticut’s media?

Connecticut’s only state-wide paper – though this characterization must be amended somewhat, since the Hartford Courant no longer penetrates every town in the state – has nearly finished endorsing Democrats and pummeling Republicans on its editorial pages.

The paper’s endorsements themselves read like re-cycled Democratic campaign posters. All seven members of Connecticut’s all Democratic U.S. Congressional Delegation have been re-endorsed by the paper. The last time the Courant endorsed a Republican running for the U.S. Congress was many moons ago, certainly beyond the ken of any millennial voter.

Perhaps its most shameful past endorsement was that of Democrat Elizabeth Esty over Republican Andrew Roraback in Connecticut’s 5th District 2012 race, because Mr. Roraback met all the usual tick-off essentials cited by the paper in bestowing its endorsements.

Mr. Roraback had more practical experience than Mrs. Esty. He was fiscally conservative at a time when a little fiscal conservativism might have helped to prevent a doubling of the national debt from $10 trillion under President George Bush to $20 trillion under President Barack Obama. His bona fides on social issues were astonishingly liberal, like those of the Courant’s editorial board.

Mr. Roraback’s cousin, Catherine Roraback, played a prominent role in litigating Griswold vs Connecticut, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that upended opposition to birth control throughout the nation. The Supreme Court ruled in the case that although the U.S. Constitution mentions no specific “right to privacy,” various amendments -- the First, Third, Fourth, and Ninth – create penumbras, or zones, that establish a right to privacy in marital relations. Since Connecticut statutes regarding contraceptive regulations conflicted with the ghostly penumbral rights the Court teased out of the above mentioned amendments, they were deemed unconstitutional.

Mr. Roraback lived up to liberal expectations on social policy. He was the kind of Republican candidate for the U.S. House whose election would not have bruised the tender social consciences of any of the members of the Courant’s Editorial Board. A few piddling objections aside – Mr. Roaraback did not support Obamacare, now on the verge of collapse, with sufficient enthusiasm --  any member of the Courant’s Editorial Board endorsing Mrs. Esty could have pinched their nostrils and cast their editorial endorsement vote for Mr. Roraback who, following his loss, was appointed to Connecticut's Superior Court by Governor Dannel Malloy, no progressive shrinking violet. Had Mr. Roraback been elected, he would have been the sole Republican thorn within an all-Democratic U.S. Congressional rose cluster.

At least one barrier to admittance to the all-Democratic club – that editorial affirmations should go to the most experienced candidate – is a tautological hurdle that can never be surmounted by ANY Republican challenger. All the current members of Connecticut’s U.S. Congressional Delegation are a) Democrats who b) have years of experience as U.S. Congresspersons. Representative John Larson, for example, is working towards his 9th term in the House. What Republican challenger could ever hope to match that experience? Rosa DeLauro’s experience in Congress has been 25 years in the making. The argument from experience is one that supports a permanent oligarchy and the death of democracy. Yet, when the paper wished to asperse a lifetime member of the U.S. Congress with its endorsement – provided he or she is a Democrat – the editorial board hauls out this rusty, anti-democratic canard to prop-up some tired old pol who has been pretending for the last five terms in office that he is running in an honest and balanced campaign for re-election – when, in fact, he is impatiently awaiting re-coronation.

U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal has ungraciously granted his Republican challenger, Dan Carter, but one debate. The soon to be coronated incumbent, has raised $8.5 million during his current campaign, while Mr. Carter, poor as a church mouse, has amassed a little more than  $227,000, according to a listing in Open Secrets. Mrs. DeLauro is so rich in campaign funds that she has been able for several terms in office to distribute her excess collections to other Democratic candidates. Not only is she her own petite party; she is her own PAC committee. The Courant has never failed to endorse her for re-election. And what paper would be so bold as to withhold its endorsement on the grounds, say, that no public office should be an unassailable sinecure?

It used to be the mission of honest journalism to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,” according to  Finley Peter Dunne’s Mr. Dooley. It would be difficult to find in Connecticut’s political firmament permanent stars more comfortable and un-afflicted than the Connecticut Democratic candidates regularly endorsed by major newspapers. To borrow a defiant bumper sticker challenge from progressive Democrats: this is not who we journalists are; we are better than this.

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