If it was any other politician in any other race, Linda McMahon would be holding her head in her hands, contemplating withdrawing her bid to be the Republican nominee to fill the Senate seat now held by Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd.
"Any other politician in any other race" are the operative words here.
First, the Hartford Courant revealed that McMahon had - how can we say this nicely - lied on her sworn application form when she asked Gov. Jodi M. Rell to appoint her to the state Board of Education last year. That appointment apparently was to give McMahon some form of government experience credibility.
But the form, obtained by Courant reporter Jon Lender through a Freedom of Information request, revealed that McMahon apparently doesn't know what she studied in college, she didn't know that she testified before Congress on the highly charged issue of steroid abuse in sports and her World Wrestling empire, nor that she had ever written anything for public consumption. She has a degree in French, but she thought it was English; she wrote for her corporation's fan magazines under a pen name but didn't think to mention it; and if you don't know that steroid abuse is controversial - even if your company hasn't been investigated by Congress and brought up on charges by the Justice Department - then you really aren't paying attention.
One would presume that an applicant for appointment to the state Board of Education would be paying attention, at least some of the time.
McMahon abruptly stepped down from the State position after receiving a call from the Courant asking about the discrepancies in her sworn answers, but she said her resignation had nothing to do with the Courant's investigation.
Hard on the heels of the Courant's revelations was an article in the Connecticut Post showing that while McMahon's ongoing television ad blitz portrays her as an outsider who wants to go to Washington to put things in order, she actually has been paying big, big bucks to powerful insider D.C. lobbying firms for years when she needs to get her point across to Congress. Hardly an outsider looking in; more like an insider dressed in outsiders' clothing.
Scarcely had the ink dried on the Post story than the New London Day ran an article at the end of the week revealing that McMahon had tipped off a WWE doctor that he might be might be a target of Justice Department investigators looking for evidence that he provided steroids to WWE "wrestlers." The Justice Department probe of steroid abuse in McMahon's company fell apart when it couldn't provide documentation to prove its allegations.
So in one week we have false sworn statements on a public document, followed by revelations of hypocrisy in campaign ads, (OK, so what's new; this is after all politics) and then revelations of witness tampering in a federal probe.
Three strikes? Up to bat and back to the dugout? Big whiff?
Is she? Considering the potential impact of these stories in the GOP race for the Senate nomination you'd think they would be Page One news all across the state. You'd think that state GOP leaders would be calling McMahon to headquarters for intense, hushed, private discussions about how she is making a mockery of the candidate selection process and how it would be better for everyone if she took her $50 million and went back to Greenwich, or for a cruise on Sexy B**ch, her luxury yacht.
But the articles received scant attention outside of their originating newspapers' circulation areas. I didn't see the Post article until a friend sent me a link to it; I didn't see the Day article until I found a version of it buried in the Journal Inquirer's inside pages Saturday; and I didn't see Jon Lender's blog article reproduced anywhere except in his blog.
What gives? Is this all part of what really appears to be shaping up as a conspiracy to get McMahon the nomination so the likely Democratic nominee, Atty. Gen. Richard Blumenthal, will be a shoo-in?
Have the millions of dollars - mostly to be spent in campaign advertising - promised by McMahon totally corrupted not only the Republican nominating process, but the alleged "journalism" practiced by many of the state's most influential newspapers too? Are the advertising departments now totally in control of the newsrooms?
Let's take a look. The reporters are obviously doing their jobs, yet my experience in the world of print journalism - nearly two decades as a reporter, editor and columnist - indicate that while one or another of these stories might be temporarily ignored by competing news outlets until they could confirm the details on their own, the totality of this week's revelations should have created a huge buzz by now.
But I don't see anyone anywhere talking about it on the local or national political shows. McMahon's candidacy has definitely caught the attention of national Republicans who believe her opponent Rob Simmons can beat Blumenthal. At the national level McMahon is regarded as a joke or even a Democratic plant who will gladly use her millions to prevent the Republicans from winning a crucial tenth Senate seat this year, needed to blunt the Democrats' rush to "European socialism, aka, Communism light."
So why is there a big HO-HUM amongst the wider chorus of political pundits? That McMahon has succeeded in splitting the GOP is obvious. She is paying her campaign manager a reported $300,000, and her communications manager (who is the wife of GOP state Chairman Chris Healy) a reported $125,000. Both salaries are well above the going scale for that work in this state. She has co-opted Healy whose objectivity is being questioned across the state, despite his protestations that his wife can work for anyone she wants at any salary she can command and it won't have any impact on his actions.
McMahon has attempted, successfully in many cases, to buy good will from local Republican Town Committees with donations of $250 and $500, ostensibly to help elect local Republicans 18 months from now, but realistically considered to be for securing convention delegates who are chosen by the local RTCs.
Her millions will certainly help the bottom lines of newspapers, and television and radio stations that run her ads. But have we become such a coldly cynical state, and more to the point such a coldly cynical party, that we will continue to allow our country to be sold down the drain in Washington for the chance to be in line for some of her political welfare?
From this vantage point it is increasingly clear that while Chris Dodd decided not to run because the voters didn't like the appearance of conflicts, cronyism and corruption that erupted in recent years, he is looking like a choir boy when compared to Linda McMahon.
Some on the national level are saying McMahon's campaign is a joke. But if the real story on her background continues to be relegated to political blogs and the deep inside pages of local newspapers, the joke won't be on Linda McMahon, it will be on the voters, and we won't think it's all that funny when we finally see the truth.
Don't say I didn't warn you.
Sunday, April 11, 2010