Sunday, July 04, 2010

Will Foley Survive Rennie?

The skinny on Republican Party nominee for governor Tom Foley – he was arrested twice more than 20 years ago, charges having been dropped – probably will end in the usual piffle.

The first arrest was for a fender-bender. The driver of the car Foley bumped had an argument with the householder who was throwing a party, and when Foley bumped him, he supposed Foley had done so at the behest of the householder. The charges were dropped.

In the second instance, Foley got into an argument with his wife when their divorce was in process. The divorce was non-amicable. The argument centered on their son, a ping pong ball in the litigation. Foley’s wife was under a court order to tell Foley where she was taking their son when he was in her custody. She refused to do this; he blocked her car in a driveway, then relented and let her go; and he followed her up the street, remonstrating with her along the way. Both Foleys were arrested. The charges were dropped.

A scurrilous charge having been made by Republican primary opponent Oz Griebel that Foley was an abusive husband, the media battered Foley released a letter from his ex-wife that said he had never abused her.

The arrest charges gave birth to exhaustively detailed stories in the Hartford Courant by top investigative reporter Jon Lender, followed by an editorial praising Foley for his response to the story. It seems that every last drop has been rung from this lemon, though Kevin Rennie, a columnist for the paper, is still manfully squeezing the pulp.

Rennie says the two incidents show that Foley has a temper. It is more than possible that Foley’s temper, certainly no more tempestuous than that of ex.-President Bill Clinton, has been tempered after 20 years. Divorce certainly does not bring out the best in people. Struggles over status, particularly when the contest involves the welfare of a child, usually are messy.

And a temper shown in so few cases should not in itself be considered a bar to public office. There was a point, during World War II, when Winston Churchill lost his temper with Hitler, while others were holding out to him the allure of sweet reason. We don’t want placid dummies to lead us through perilous times. Soft-tempered as he was, even malice-towards-none Abe Lincoln got fed up with his laggard generals, especially General George McClellan, whose unreasonable demands would be enough to make a saint explode in righteous wrath.

McClellan failed to maintain Lincoln’s trust and was aggressively insubordinate. The Lincoln-McClellan divorce, when it came, was bitter. McClellan left the battle field and ran against Lincoln for president on the Democratic ticket on a platform of appeasement. Lincoln won because, at long last, he had found a business like warrior in General Grant, whose temper was tempered by gallons of hooch. When Grant won an important battle just before the election, Lincoln was in. And later, when rumors concerning Grant’s tippling were brought to Lincoln, he said he would be glad to know what whiskey he was drinking so that he could send a few barrels to his other generals.

In today’s media environment, it would be unlikely that either Grant or Lincoln would have made it to the White House. One liked whiskey, and the other was a yarn spinning state representative operating in a corrupt political environment in Illinois who had no executive experience before he became president -- like President Barrack Obama.

6 comments:

Fuzzy Dunlop said...

The bizarre thing, as the Courant points out, is that there is no one, other than the other Republican candidates, who are disputing or calling into question Mr. Foley's account of these events. The "victims" of his so-called auto assault have not come forward (although, based on Oz's press releases, you might think they were kin to him), and his wife seems content enough to let sleeping dogs lie; as is often the case in divorce, were the details of the behavior of both parties to be revisited, neither would would look particularly honorable. I was initially critical of Mr. Foley's response to this "crisis", and still think the unproven Justin Clark is an odd choice for campaign manager, but I have been reminded that candidates are, first and foremost, men. Foley's middling responses seem more understandable in hindsight; the man still has a son, no matter how grown up, to protect, along with the dignity of his ex-wife, who had no say in whether he would run for public office.

Insofar as Kevin is concerned, he appears to have no love for the Rell administration and has hammered Mike Fedele for his overeagerness both to report an "endorsement" where none existed, as well as Mike's to appear gubernatorial following the Middletown disaster. But Kevin is a Republican nonetheless and likely interested in the governor's office remaining in red hands. I imagine that he now fears, in light of Mr. Foley's arrest record, that perhaps the party has failed to back the a winning horse.

Don Pesci said...

Fuzzy,

I think you're right.

Fuzzy Dunlop said...

Don,
I'd have thought you would have more to say about Mssr. Fedele applying for the Clean Election Program, a story that got lost in the din of divorce antics and fender benders.

It is shocking to me, based on principle alone, that a Republican would apply. And were principle alone not enough, one would think that the practical obstacle presented by the desultory state of our state coffers would provide incentive enough. One might have also thought that any Republican applying would at least have the good sense to preserve some dignity by not trying to game the system in order to qualify.

It is a shame that the gossip and intrigue surrounding Tom Foley's past overshadowed this development last week... a development that no doubt merits a more principled, meritorious debate.

Don Pesci said...

Fuzzy,

I appreciate and second your comments concerning Connecticut’s Fair Election program. To be fair about it, it is really more nearly an incumbent protection program, designed, I believe, to weaken parties and give a leg up to incumbents, since incumbents have may other advantages not off-set by the program. It’s one of the children, or grandchildren, of McCain-Feingold, which I’ve criticized rather persistantly elsewhere:

http://donpesci.blogspot.com/2010/01/citizens-united-decision.html

http://donpesci.blogspot.com/2009/09/on-constitutional-interpretation-blumie.html

http://donpesci.blogspot.com/2006/06/moveonorg-told-to-move-on.html

http://donpesci.blogspot.com/2006/02/mccain-feingold-shays-meehan-rell-bush.html

If you put “Feingold” in the search engine of this blog, you’ll be rewarded with a series of columns and blogs that, assembled together, would form a small book.

And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

All my hollering has produced nothing, nada. The political parties persist in throwing themselves off a cliff. There is nothing I can do about all this that I have not already done. But I appreciate your comment.

Fuzzy Dunlop said...

ugh... Mike Fedele truly has become a political welfare queen. What else do you call someone who brazenly manipulates the system to get a taxpayer handout.

Don Pesci said...

This is how the Courant wrote up the SEEC decision http://blogs.courant.com/capitol_watch/2010/07/lt-gov-mike-fedele-qualifies-f.html:

"The State Elections Enforcement Commission voted unanimously Thursday to award the grant to the combined committee of Fedele and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, who are running as a team. Under the law, the money is awarded to the committee as 'a single grant, which can be used to benefit both candidates,' according to the commission."

That report is correct as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough. Actually, the State Elections Enforcement Commission broke new ground in its interpretation of the state statute that gives the commission the authority to disperse tax dollars to primary challengers. The commission’s ruling means that any two people, not nominated as a combination by the relevant party nominating apparatus, may join together as a team for the purpose of acquiring tax money to run their campaign. If that seems fishy, it may be because it is fishy.

Both Oz Griebel and Foley are questioning the decision, but a final resolution concerning the decision cannot be made before the the funds have been dispersed.