Monday, January 22, 2007

The New McCarthyites

“One of the great sorrows of modern public life in Connecticut is the way it discolors the otherwise spotless” – Colin McEnroe

McEnroe was referring to Leonard Boyle, the current commissioner of The Department of Public Safety, but he might easily have been talking about former state police Maj. Gregory Senick, an apparently spotless servant of the people whose reputation was discolored by an overzealous prosecution, while the paper McEnroe writes for, the Hartford Courant, spurred on the prosecutorial harpies.

McEnroe’s comment is worth quoting in full:

“One of the great sorrows of modern public life in Connecticut is the way it discolors the otherwise spotless. I have never heard a bad word said about Leonard Boyle, but the actions of his department now make him look like the head of the secret poice (sic). In my one conversation with Boyle, he semed (sic) like a stand-up guy.

“Now he's apparently shopping his resume around. As you can see, the Moodygate story sticks to him like a Marco Polo canape (sic), and the internal affairs mess, very much the fault of his predecessor, Spadaman, is slopping around Boyle's shoes."

In McEnroeland, “Spadaman” is the otherwise spotless Judge Arthur Spada, commissioner of the Department of Public Safety when the not spotless John Rowland was governor. The view around the Courant after Rowland was hauled off to jail was that pretty nearly everyone connected with the felonious governor was, well, spotted – even if they weren’t. Spada ran afoul of union leaders, who were determined to ditch him. And Senick, once his chief of staff, was a close friend and associate. Guilt by association generally has been recognized as one of the more virulent curses of McCarthyism.

Spada additionally had come under fire because he was friendly with radio talk show host Brad Davis, an otherwise spotless conservative, who was friendly with Rowland. Davis is a former US marine, and once the marines dig in on a position, they do not easily give it up. In connection with Davis and Rowland, one thinks of Priam attempting to reclaim Hector’s battered body from Achilles: Enough already!

The new McCarthyites at the Courant, including the spotless McEnroe, pursued Christine Regaglia like fanged furies and finally were successful in persuading Gov. Jodi Rell to fire her, even though, as was mentioned in an underreported blog and column, she was “more sinned against than sinning:”

“It’s difficult to predict at this remove what bit part some future Pulitzer Prize winning reporter – There are probably dozens of them banging away at computer terminals as I write -- will assign to Ragaglia. From the little that is know so far, she appears to be a woman more sinned against than sinning. Apparently, she suffered from an alcoholic problem, doubtless brought on by Alibozak’s attentions. And, of course, Rowland’s chief aide Peter Ellef and William Tomasso, both recently sentenced for peculation and incurable stupidity, would drive a saint to drink.”

There are varying degrees of spottiness, but in Connecticut's media, particularly in matters having to do with Rowland, the quality of mercy is very strained and sifted. Regaglia certainly assisted in the prosecution of Rowland. So did Alibozak, the singing canary far more culpable than Regaglia, but Alibozak – who at one point buried gold coins given him by Tomasso -- got off with barely a warning. The Courant objected editorially to the lenient sentence, which did not include jail time.

But the Courant was relentless in its pursuit of Spada’s ex-chief of staff, churning out several stories that made Senick wonder, after a jury vindicated him and prosecutors “quietly” dropped all charges, how he was going to get his reputation back.

One way to get it back is to persuade the new McCarthyites that Senick, after being vindicated in one trial, now finds himself in roughly the same position as Ken Krayeske, the new cause célèbre among the kind of people who hold rallies for those oppressed by the heavy hand of the Old McCarthyites.

The anti-Senick parade is led, as one might expect, by Connecticut’s chief bully, Attorney General Richard Blummenthal, who promises to further deplete Senick’s bank account by pursuing a civil case against him. Senick’s criminal jury not only found him innocent of all charges after a short deliberation; it also reprimanded the prosecutor for having persecuted him without cause.

The parade goes on and on and on, rolling over all in its path. And all those courageous enough to stop it have joined it, all but Ken Krayeske, who has his own similar problems.


turfgrrl said...

There's plenty of new-macarthyism going around. It starts with the intolerance to discourse with those who see things differently than you do. For example, some Norwalk Democrats and some Norwalk Republicans who happen to sit on the Common Council together, want to have an informal meeting to share ideas.

Instead of jumping all over this great idea, some Norwalk Democrats, starting with Town Chair Galen "stumped" Wells, Matt "no partisanship" Miklave, and Kevin "Election year stunt" Poruban, dismiss it as nothing important.

Yes, having regular meetings with and discourse with people interested in politics in a setting other than hearings and caucuses is a good thing. It might led to better more civil and constructive negotiations. Ostracizing people who have differing viewpoints leads to what exactly?

Don Pesci said...

I agree with you. What amazes me is the ease with which the New McCarthyites are able to recruit to their side an army of "so called” independent minded reporters, columnists and other purveyors of so called "public opinion. Blumenthal -- to take but one example -- wags his finger and the whole reportorial mob falls at his feet. It is not government but journalism that suffers from the pimping.

turfgrrl said...

Independent thinking is rather an oxymoron these days. Too often, people pick 'sides" or philosophies that they have not given much thought to, and merely adopt it in order to fit into a group.

Don Pesci said...

Right. Better not to run with the pack. Some people bring their own packs with them to every argument -- just a bunch of bullies. On the other hand, we don't want to hide out lights under bushels either. When I used to write exclusively for the Journal Inquirer, I'd do all my polling on the Z bus, coming and going from Hartford. Amazing results. The blue collar crowd pulled me through many a tortuous column. The problem with most journalists and bloggers is that they're monks. I don't mean to say they don't have a social life; they do. It's just that, once you've achieved a certain degree of celebrity -- whether as a CEO or an immodest commentator -- you can be sure that the crowd surrounding you are a bunch of manikins, tiny little you's piping your song in your ear. Me, I have to bank my head against an idea I disagree with to achieve clarity. I like disagreeable people.