Saturday, July 01, 2006

Moody Transendentalizing

The worst case scenario concerning the now notorious memo at the center of a legislative investigation of Lisa Moody, Governor Jodi Rell’s right hand woman, was presented by co-chairman of the government administration and elections committee Christopher Caruso, D-Bridgeport:

"It now appears that Lisa Moody has lied under oath to the legislature,” said Caruso in a Hartford Courant story, “has perjured herself, and, and effectively has obstructed the legislative process.

"I think it's high time that the governor seriously reconsider her professional relationship with Lisa Moody and possibly severing ties," Caruso said Friday night. "I think it will be impossible now, at this point, for her to be able to effectively work with the legislature and within the government."

Moody was defended by House Minority Leader Robert Ward, who pleaded extreme business on her behalf:

"Busy people who read hundreds of documents a week don't recall every detail of what they read a year ago," Ward said. "And saying `I did not read or memorize' something" - as Moody did, under oath - "is not inconsistent with making a few comments and shipping [a memo] back" to an aide. He said he still thinks Moody is "honest and hard-working" and the Democrat-run probe is "a partisan fishing expedition [and] politics at its worst."

Probably the truth lies somewhere in between, and it is surprising that no one, so far, has thought to bring forward what might be called the Bronson Alcott defense.

Alcott was the father of Lousia May Alcott and a noted transcendentalist. One day while walking in the woods with a friend, thinking deep transcendental thoughts, he collided with tree and was promptly felled. He picked himself up, brushed himself off, and proceeded to explain to his friend that the accident had occurred because, while he had seen the tree, he hadn’t realized it.

It’s not too unusual for state administrators to see and sign memos they haven’t quite realized. On the other hand, Moody may have been disposed not to realize the content of the offending memo. Whether or not Moody consciously lied under oath to legislative interrogators is a separate question now being kicked around by Democrats probing for Gov. Jodi Rell’s Achilles’ heal. However, proving that politicians have consciously lied always has been a near impossible task.

There are some downsides to a hearing convened to get to the bottom of Moodygate. First of all, Rell is armored all over against charges that she is unethical. The rhetorical grapeshot just bounces off her. Even though she has been known to associate with a certain felonious governor, Rell does not walk like a Rowland, talk like a Rowland, and has no hot tubs in her past; on the plus side, she has been successful, at some cost to herself, in changing the political hotwiring in Connecticut that has sent so many promising politicians to the clinker.

While Moody’s ham-fisted attempt to play politics the old fashion way has been a hopeless and embarrassing failure, she has already been punished for having strong-armed commissioners into coughing up money for Rell’s campaign -- unlike the present mayor of Bridgeport, who took drugs while in office and has yet to incur the wrath of the hypersensitive Democrat leaders who have advised Rell to can Moody.

A public hearing may be more distracting than efficacious. One of the reasons Rell and the two Democrat gubernatorial hopefuls, mayors Dannel Malloy and John DeStefano, have yet to engage in political fisticuffs is that the two Democrats are locked in a primary contest.

Primaries are costly invitations to commit campaign suicide in general elections. Usually, the winner of the primary has drifted so far to the periphery in attempts to appeal to the party base, either progressive Democrats or conservative Republicans, that they are easily pushed over the edge in general elections: They have promised too much, gone too far, cut off all paths of retreat and accommodation.

Campaign delays and distractions help powerful incumbents. That would be Rell. And the idea in successful political campaigning is not to be helpful to the politician you are trying to displace.

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