Sunday, February 07, 2010

Bysiewicz And The Narrative Trap

Everyone very likely will recall the Moody-Rell-Arts And Tourism incident, then Gov. Jodi Rell’s Teapot Dome scandal.

Lisa Moody, Rell’s chief aide, ordered that an address list of art and tourism organizations be put on a disk, which she then shared with Rell’s re-election campaign committee. It was assumed at the time, by very nearly everyone who had access to a computer keyboard, that the campaign committee would use the names to furnish funds for “Snow White.”

This mini-Teapot Dome affair was stopped in its tracks by a vigilant press.

The incident delighted anti-Rellites in both the opposition party and the media. Then Speaker of the House Jim Amann strummed the chord of corruption until the strings on his rhetorical harp broke, without once asking why Bill DiBella had not followed Ben Andrews to jail. And the media began humming “Schadenfreude, My Schadenfreude” in its sleep. The moral epigones guessed Moody was far more corrupt than U.S. Rep. John Murtha, the powerful Chairman of the House Appropriations Defense Committee and 1st District Rep. John Larson’s friend and mentor in the earmark dispensing business, and here was unimpeachable proof of it.

And now look what has happened. Running for state attorney general, Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz's foot has become entangled in the same bear trap, the old narrative snare. Reports indicate that Bysiewicz fashioned a disk of clients who had contacted her office for help and gave it to her election campaign so that those listed might be hit up for funding.

The Bysiewicz's business began when she decided she would rather be attorney general than governor, an understandable ambition.

Given the problems facing the next governor – a voracious tax hungry unionized wolf knocking at the door, an improvident legislature dominated by chronic big spenders, a media that thinks the bill writing Democratic sausage factory is in any sense under the direction of the Republican governor, a national recession worsened by a tin eared U.S. Congress and a chief executive whose administration is light on business acumen -- who would not rather be attorney general than governor?

The following graph, courtesy of Investor's Daily, shows presidential cabinets with private sector experience from Roosevelt I forward:

The AG spot, remarkably free from media criticism, has suited present Attorney General Richard Blumenthal well. Without surrendering his sinecure, saint Blumenthal is now running for the U.S. Senate, where his first order of business no doubt will be to loudly, persistently and publicly protest U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to try Sheik Kalid Mohammed in a civilian court. It is not known whether, once installed in the senate, Blumenthal will persuade some obliging Connecticut House mouse to open impeachment proceedings against Holder.

Bysiewicz has been in office long enough to know that politicians must not run afoul of settled political narratives.

The Corrupticut narrative began with ex-Gov. John Rowland; though, of course, corruption in office did not begin with this son of Satan. Having banged the ethical drums so loudly about corruption in the Rowland administration, it was not likely the media would mute its voice when other politicians showed signs they were reverting to business as usual. Assaults on the appearance of corruption must be applied indiscriminately; somewhat like God, the media advertises itself as no respecter of persons.

“There is but one way I know of conversing safely with all men,” Alexander Pope says, “that is, not by concealing what we say or do, but by saying or doing nothing that deserves to be concealed.”

That is how Bysiewicz became a target. The media had already expended a great deal of energy and ink deploring the shenanigans of Moody/Rell, and every word was a commitment. When the media stink was raised over Moody’s attempt to use lists to obtain campaign cash, Bysiewicz should have been paying attention.

Clearly, she was not.


To cap the farce, it was a whistleblower in Florida, a “birther’ according to one report, who turned the matter over to Blumenthal, both an attorney general and a candidate for congress. It would have been indelicate of the attorney general to refuse the whistleblower’s complaint simply because the object of the complaint was a fellow Democrat no less ambitious than he. So, he turned the matter over to a couple of assistant attorneys general for investigation. Bysiewicz, a friend of Blumenthal, feels certain her bid for Blumenthal’s seat will not suffer from the scrutiny, and no one should hold his breath waiting for the usual defamatory press release.

It was not for nothing that Pope called politics “The many-headed monster of the pit.”


Fuzzy Dunlop said...

Are you certain that Dick is really a "friend" of Susan's? As Colin McEnroe pointed out, Dick's opinion was the political equivalent of saying "I don't care whether you live or die" to Susan, and from everything I've ever heard the two aren't exactly best friends. I don't think being Democrats together automatically makes you buddies in the political sandbox.

Also, interesting thing about your chart... I think it's fair to be as critical as people wish about how our current Chief Executive has handled the economy, however President Bush has one of the highest "business people" in his administration levels, and it's beyond question that our current economic decline started on his watch.

Don Pesci said...


Dick friend of Susan -- I was responding to a comment made by SB that Blumenthal was a friend of hers. I have no way of knowing whether the putative friendship is reciprocated.

President Bush -- I don’t doubt it, but the real value of the chart is that it compares Obama not just to Bush, as frequently happens, but to all the presidents from Roosevelt I on.

Don Pesci said...

Colin, I will say, is very on point about such things.

Don Pesci said...

Your question reminds me of a remark by Joseph Pulitzer to the effect that journalists should have no friends. At one point, Blumenthal WAS a journalist, I think for the Harvard Crimson. Perhaps he developed a friendless tick from his glory years.

Seriously, I'm sure he has dear friends. Whether Susan is among them I can't say.

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