Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Post Primary Ressentiment

The primaries are over, which means that Republicans need no longer bash Republicans and Democrats need no longer bash Democrats.

A time of “healing” and “unification” is close at hand.
YouTube snippets of former Representative Chris Shays intemperately asserting he has never in his years of politicking – no, never -- met a Republican primary opponent he would not under any circumstances support will live on in a sort of YouTube afterlife, and it would be foolish to suppose that SuperPACs supporting Democratic primary winner Chris Murphy would not make ample use of Mr. Shays’ unfortunate apoplectic burst of Nietzsche ressentiment. “I have never run against an opponent that I have respected less -- ever -- and there are a lot of candidates I have run against," Mr. Shays told the New Haven Register.

Patrick Skully, the proprietor of “The Hanging Shad,” touted on his site as “Connecticut’s BEST Political blog and commentary,” wrote of Mr. Shays on the eve of the primaries, “This is over. The Chris Shays campaign didn’t care for [Mr. Skully’s] characterization that the former congressman has gone cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs because Linda McMahon is beating him. Sorry, I call ‘em as I see ‘em.”

It would be redundant to note that Mr. Skully reflexively supports Democrats and is no friend of Linda McMahon. Following Mrs. McMahon’s refusal to meet with editorial boards before primary votes were cast, the Republican Party’s choice for the U.S. Senate has few friends within editorial boards and none among commentators whose primary business lies in advising promising Democratic candidates for office.

Some things are obvious:

·         Primary scars do not heal quickly; sometimes not at all. Once the Rubicon is crossed, it becomes impossible to reenter the Roman Republic. Mr. Shays’ primary campaign remarks may seem insurrectionary to some Republican Party leaders.

·         Democrats are running the state of Connecticut and have little to fear from Republicans, which is why the first Democratic governor in more than 20 years, Dannel Malloy, and present Speaker of the state House Chris Donovan, had little to fear when Republicans were shown the door during budget negotiations that imposed, mostly on middle class nutmeggers, the largest tax increase in state history. Even among Connecticut’s left of center media, no journalist who has a nodding acquaintance with inconvenient truths could possible confuse Mr. Donovan or his likely replacement, House Majority Leader Brendan Sharkey, with traditional Connecticut moderate Democrats. Under such circumstances, the Republican Party needs seasoned fighters, not accomodationists.

·         The “center” in both parties took a hike decades ago. Moderate Republicans have had no success in overthrowing liberal Democrats in Connecticut’s Congressional delegation; there are no Rockefeller Republican survivals in the U.S. House anywhere in New England. Mr. Shays was the last moderate Republican when he was unseated by current 4th District U.S. Representative Jim Himes a dozen years ago. Mr. Shays’ present rejection by Connecticut Republicans simply confirms that the species almost everywhere in the Northeast has become as extinct as the Dodo bird. The breed lives on only in the nostalgic memories of journalists in the Northeast afflicted with a crippling anti-conservative phobia.

·         Without question, the most often reiterated refrain since Mrs. McMahon was unable to prevent then Attorney General Richard Blumenthal from occupying former Senator Chris Dodd’s seat in the U.S. Congress – the former senator is now a multi-millionaire lobbyist for Tinseltown – is that Mrs. McMahon’s millions could not buy a senate seat. Mrs. McMahon’s critics were right: Fifty million dollars spent on a senate campaign was pointlessly spent. However, a recent variation on the refrain goes like this: Money can buy a senate seat. So says Mr. Murphy, Democrats everywhere in the state and the state’s left of center media. Their message, in any case, is confusing.

What has not been said of Mrs. McMahon’s campaign is perhaps more important, if less obvious.

She has so far run a very traditional, stellar ground campaign, which is no guarantee that she will prevail over Mr. Murphy, who has gathered in his own corner enough dollars and ancillary support to wage an effective campaign against Mrs. McMahon.

Of the two campaigners, Mrs. McMahon’s message – it’s raining, and the spending downpour is not likely to stop anytime soon -- comports with the reality people see when they free themselves of campaign propaganda and look out the window at the real world.

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