Lots of baloney, little mustard in campaign
Published 5:26 pm, Wednesday, September 29, 2010
An endless stream of slick political flyers pours into Connecticut households daily and usually flows directly from the mailbox to the trash can.
En route, however, some of the outrageous material in them rubs off on recipients and that's a pity. Wild accusations, irresponsible statements masquerading as facts and irrelevant assertions can have an impact they don't deserve. Personal attacks and a plethora of negativity have supplanted meaningful discussion of the real issues.
Take, for example, the gubernatorial race. Tom Foley, the Republican candidate, says that as mayor of Stamford his Democratic opponent, Dan Malloy, drove the city deep into debt and that 13,000 people lost their jobs during his tenure. Malloy claims Foley ran a Southern corporation into bankruptcy and left with millions of dollars in his own pockets.
Countering that charge, Foley says he sold the company before it went bust. Malloy, on the other hand, can point to the fact that Stamford is undeniably Connecticut's most vibrant city and his 14 years as its mayor had something to do with that.
Both agree that Connecticut needs to shave its spending and generate more jobs. Neither offers any detailed plan how that could be achieved other than the customary rhetoric about curtailing waste and fraud and streamlining government operations.
Perhaps the candidates differ most on governmental experience. Foley, a Greenwich millionaire, has not held government office, though he had been a major fund-raiser for George W. Bush and the Republican Party and was rewarded with an appointment as U.S. ambassador to Ireland. As a mayor, Malloy worked for 14 years with all agencies of local, state and national governments as well as with several unions representing public employees.
Linda McMahon, the GOP standard-bearer, says her Democratic opponent, Dick Blumenthal, has lied about his wartime service in the military and about his pledge not to accept campaign donations from political action committees or corporations. She charges also that his fights with corporations as the state's attorney general have been more a case of publicity than of real substance. And she has spent about $20 million so far (and says she's willing to go for $30 million more) to keep harping on that theme.
As far as offering anything positive, she had been displaying a workman's lnnch pail in her campaign ads while commenting that she wants to see lots more of them at jobs. McMahon knows something about jobs. She was the chief executive of a company that stages sham wrestling matches, always violent and often vulgar, that earns billions as televised entertainment. Washington reports last week indicated that federal tax authorities are investigating the way the firm may have classified employees as "independent contractors" to avoid paying for their benefits.
McMahon also has called for a tighter rein on federal entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare, but she dodges questions about requiring a means test for eligibility or raising the minimum age of recipients. Although she offers a gloomy outlook for those critical programs, saying both face "imminent insolvency," official figures out of Washington indicate both are solid for at least another 20 years even if nothing is done now.
Additionally, McMahon never has held or sought elective office in any government. Her experience has been limited to a few months as an appointed member of the State Board of Education.
For his part, Blumenthal has apologized for misrepresenting his wartime military service. He said it was unintentional and he misspoke when he said he was in Vietnam but actually in this country while in the Marines. He rejects allegations about the source of campaign donations.
Blumenthal has represented consumer interests consistently, against the tobacco and pharmaceutical giants, for example, during his 20 years as attorney general. He also played an influential role in retaining the submarine complex and its thousands of jobs when the Department of Defense talked about shutting it down a few years ago.
In the end, these are some of the fact voters should ponder while they ignore all the negativism arriving daily in mailboxes and on television screens.