The Gubernatorial Debate held at the Bushnell Tuesday night was remarkable primarily for its hard-edged, street-level punk fighting, which apparently is the preferred method of assault used by Democratic nominee Dan Malloy when he can't answer a question.
I watched the debate hoping to get an inside look at the character of the combatants, the other being Republican nominee Tom Foley. Since I am a Republican and Foley has been all around the state campaigning it is natural that I would have met him - three times actually - and have more knowledge of him than I did of Malloy.
In saying I am a Republican that does not make me an automaton who votes reactively for any Republican who is nominated by the party hierarchy, even if that hierarchy works through the primary process as was the case this year. Long before I was a Republican I spent decades as an independent voter, and still retain the habit of actually reviewing the positions of the candidates before I cast my ballot.
So last night was no different for me than any other night when candidates for office debate and show off their positions, skills and beliefs.
I went into the evening thinking I would probably like Dan Malloy, but not sure if I would like his positions. I came away not liking him at all, instead finding him rude, obnoxious, evasive and not all that well versed on the issues. In fact, whenever Foley caught him in an obvious gaffe, Malloy responded by going on the attack and launching personal insults rather than regrouping and clarifying.
Take for instance the death penalty. It was the first question of the night and was keyed on the horrific assaults and murders at the Petit family home in Cheshire in 2007. Foley said he favors the death penalty both as a means of punishment for violent crimes that result in death, and as a deterrent to other criminals.
Malloy opposes the death penalty, and said he will sign a bill prohibiting the death penalty in Connecticut if the legislature passes such as a measure - except that he will make an exception for the criminals who committed the heinous crimes in Cheshire! Really? And just how would he enact a retroactive, pro-death penalty law for some of the residents of Death Row, if he is simultaneously signing an anti-death penalty measure for others?
First off, only the first of the two animals who savaged the Petit family, murdering two girls, their mother and beating the father senseless with a baseball bat has been tried and convicted. The jury hasn't even debated the penalty phase yet, although considering that the first perpetrator was convicted after only 4 hours of deliberation it isn't likely they'll opt for life in prison.
Nonetheless, there still is another trial for the second defendant and then there will be the endless appeals and stays.
So let's say for the sake of argument there will be a new governor by then and just for laughs let's say it's Malloy. How will he justify killing some criminals and letting others live, if they are on death row for essentially the same crimes?
Answer, he won't. The defendants' lawyers will be all over him like flies on garbage, claiming everything from bigotry and unequal application of the laws to cruel and unusual punishment. And they'll win! Malloy came across as a typical career politician, trying to take both sides of an issue simultaneously and not doing a good job with either.
Moving on, let's talk about taxes. Foley described a typical Connecticut family making $68,000 annually, the median income in Connecticut, paying out more than $8,000 in state and local taxes. That is way too much and must come down, he said.
Malloy responded that Foley doesn't know what he is talking about and said the family he described only pays about $2,000 in state taxes. Where does Malloy live, in a bubble? And for the record, Foley said state and local taxes, not just state taxes.
I apparently am in that typical range, and I can tell you, the taxes I pay are much closer to the figure Foley mentioned than the once Malloy used. For starters, I work out of my home and my wife has flexible hours at her job so we have made do for several years with just one motor vehicle. But I still drive about 12,000 miles per year and pay out about $700 is gasoline taxes - at a rate of 62.5 cents per gallon, the second highest in the nation. That's somewhere between a quarter and a third of what Malloy says is my total tax bill, for just one item.
Then there is the 6 percent sales tax on most non-food grocery items, clothing over $50 - have your purchased a pair of slacks or shoes or dress shirt lately? Try finding something under $50 outside of the Goodwill store.
Then there is the local property tax which in my case exceeds $6,000, not to mention state income taxes, motor vehicle taxes, and a plethora of fees and charges. I don't live extravagantly but I also have no idea where Malloy gets his numbers. He is really out of the loop.
But don't try telling that to Malloy, he'll just change the subject and insult you. For instance, he bashed Foley's running mate, former Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, essentially saying Foley had selected a man for whom negative adjectives were invented. Foley responded that the voters selected his running mate, not him, and he then did a great job of listing Boughton's numerous qualifications to be Lieutenant Governor, explaining how their backgrounds would dovetail nicely to provide the best services for Connecticut residents.
Having been caught flatfooted, Malloy covered up by repeating his egregious statements about Boughton, who was not there to defend himself, and still maintaining that Foley selected the GOP candidate for Lieutenant Governor rather than the GOP voters!
This continued throughout the debate - when Foley said he favors merit reviews for teachers rather than tenure, Malloy went on a rant accusing him of disparaging teachers - and frankly I found it tedious and far beneath the level of the debate the previous night between the state's Senatorial candidates. I had a pretty good idea where Foley stands on the issues confronting us, but I was still willing to give Malloy the benefit of the doubt.
Until Tuesday night. At the end of the debate, each candidate was given an opportunity to make a closing statement. Foley went first and took the opportunity to discuss his plan to get Connecticut out of the current fiscal crisis and make the state business friendly so we can start reversing our abysmal unemployment figures. He said little about his opponent, preferring to speak about what he can do for our state.
Malloy had the last word of the evening and he used it to throw another series of insults at Foley, which was akin to sucker punching him since Foley could not respond. I found it cheap, classless, tacky and unbecoming of a person who aspires to the highest elected office in our state.
Earlier in the evening Malloy referenced the many problems he faced while growing up, including dyslexia. I am happy that he was able to face and overcome the challenges he encountered early in his life, and proud that he has been successful as an adult.
But it also was obvious from Malloy's behavior Tuesday night that he is a very angry man, with deep-seated resentments of people who aren't him. When Malloy was asked to give a one-word definition of Foley, he said "Rich."
Foley gave a hyphenated response to the same question about Malloy and here I disagree with him. I would have said "Jealous."
It was obvious from his behavior all night that Malloy has a very large chip on his shoulder, and his first action before deciding to run for Governor should have been to do everything in his power to shed it.
Wednesday, October 06, 2010