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Friday, October 7, 2011

Markley surrenders the high ground

When a friend of mine stopped by to tell me that Republican State Senator Joseph Markley had written a scathing letter to supporters attacking former 22-year Connecticut Congressman Christopher Shays on behalf of Linda McMahon, I laughed. I assumed that my friend was just in the mood for a bit of levity at my expense. Then I read the letter for myself.  I felt gutted. And above all – very, very disappointed in Joe.
Figuratively speaking, looks like State
Sen. Joe Markley has found a new role as
Linda McMahon's #1 hitman
Up until now, most of us believed Joe Markley to be a man of integrity and impeccable character who would rarely talk negatively of his opponents, never-mind violate Ronald Reagan’s 11th Amendment in such a publicly charged manner.

Markley had always taken the high road in every debate, making the intellectual case when discussing issues like lowering tax rates, or reducing state spending - and even when he campaigned for defeat of the polarizing Bathroom Bill, Senator Markley kept his tone civil and respectful.  In our conversations, he always steered away from a superficially emotional reaction to a problem, and instead would quote case and law, or make a relevant historical analogy to support his position.

But I guess it's out with the old Joe Markley, and in with the new.

It’s a complex problem for all of us Republicans.  Because on one hand, we see Senator Joe Markley working on behalf of the public, doing all he can to put the kibosh on the $600 million dollar no way-busway, and then on the other, we see him taking cheap shots at a fellow Republican for participating in mass amended, and cloture votes, and worse - accusing him of residing in another state (a blatant lie), and then holding his campaign debt over his head.  Joe, is this what you call Fair Play? Is this OUR Joe Markley?

What we see at work here is a page straight out of the Tom Scott playbook to which the McMahon campaign apparently subscribes.  While the attack, slash and burn strategy might have worked last year in a one-off, special election in Meriden, I'll bet your bottom dollar that taking the same negative strategy statewide would prove disastrous for the CTGOP. Look at how well it worked out for Republicans last year after Businessman Tom Foley and Lt. Governor Michael Fedele beat the snot out of each other on TV for three straight months. It didn't turn out so pretty.

The bottom line is that by serving as Tom Scott's dirty errand boy, Joe Markley has hurt his own credibility and greatly diminished his position as a respected, impartial State Senator.  Generally speaking, State Senators don't run off to become hired hit-men for Federal Candidates; particularly, in this case where we have a lady who has never held any elected position whatsoever, and campaigns on empty slogans, pro-wrestling lingo, and a 5th grade grasp of Civics. 

It took a lot of gall for Sen. Markley to compare a person like Christopher Shays, who, as imperfect as he is, represented the State of Connecticut and served on many Presidential and Congressional Committees in a distinguished fashion with someone who has made her fortune promoting sex, necrophilia, violence, and lots of distasteful nonsense under the guise of so-called entertainment.  So your argument is that because Linda visited 15 small businesses this month as part of a campaign stunt- she's suddenly more qualified for the job than Mr. Shays?  Can you say that with a serious face? 

And while were in the mood to ask tough questions - during Mr. Shay's tenure, did anyone die from steroid use, massive heart failure, or from falling 150 feet from the ceiling while under his employ?

It's a sad day when we see Joe Markley go from State Senator to political hired gun. It's so unbecoming. What backroom deal could possibly have been made to draw him so far down into the gutter?  What price was paid for him to trade-in his halo for a tommy-gun?  And believe me, many people are asking the very same question.  We simply can't believe it.

Lastly Joe, I pray that Southington residents really love you.  I really do. Because since you've decided to hitch your wagon to Linda's train, we'll hope that her negative ratings don't rub off on you during your next re-election bid, because that would mean Republicans end up down yet another seat in the legislature. And all because of some short-sighted ambition at front page glory.

I'm reminded of the classic line from the movie, Eight men Out when the young man glumly turns to Shoeless Joe Jackson and asks, "Say it ain't so, Joe. Say it ain't so."



The original blog entry can be viewed at


Anonymous said...

Where can I get a copy of the letter that Joe Markley wrote? Is it online?


James Bailey Brislin said...

I think you're wrong to attack Markley for going after Shays. The nomination of Shays would be bad news for the GOP. Shays has called for social conservatives to be thrown out of the party and has made us the scapegoat for the party's problems. Also, I have to say that I'm less than entusiastic about voting for a GOP candidate who ran TV ads linking himself to Obama to sell his sinking candidacy in 2008.

I also have very serious reservations about his history as a Vietnam-era draft dodger ("conscientious objector")-- it appears completely incongruous to his vocal support for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. How is it okay to send somebody else's sons to war but not have the courage to go yourself? Isn't that nothing more than elitism? I don't like it that this guys thinks he's to good to defend our country but it's okay to send my contemporaries off to war?

I think Markley is sincere in his opposition to Shays. McMahon is not the most conservative candidate but she's worlds better than Shays.

The King said...

Cheryl: I haven't seen the letter scanned online yet. I won't reprint the whole letter in its entirety because that would mean behaving as irresponsibly as its author - Joe Markley, but you can read a portion of it here on the web:

No matter what your take - Joe Markley has done himself and Connecticut Republicans a huge disservice by going negative and starting in with a character assassination of Mr. Shays. All weekend long, I've been hearing how disappointed people are in Markely.

The King said...


Thanks for your comment. I believe that social conservatives should have certain
reservations about both Linda McMahon and Christopher Shays. Whether Linda is more conservative than Chris Shays is still to be determined. Certainly, the product which Linda McMahon beams into our homes several times a week is certainly not something that they can be applauding down at the Family Institute of Connecticut, or the Christian Coalition Offices. I'd ask you to revisit this important piece of the puzzle.

The one thing I strong disagree with you about is your support for Joe Markley's decision to send out his disgraceful letter on behalf of Linda McMahon. I'm sorry, James - indeed, Senator Markley may endorse any candidate of his choosing, but to take on the role of attack dog is unbefitting his position, and undermines the respect that people have for him on both sides of the chamber. Not to mention that his letter was largely unnecessary .

I can tell you that the story resonating on the street is about Sen. Markley blindly doing Tom Scott's bidding, not about the points he tried to make.

Personally, I'm glad that there are two other candidates involved in the race - Brian Hill and Mayor Jason McCoy. Let's hope people choose their candidate based upon where the candidates stand on the issues, and not a millionaire's public relations effort to make it appear that it's "already in the bag".


Anonymous said...

James, Social Conservatives are the problem with the GOP. Everyone thinks the Republican Party is about social issues. It is not. I am a fiscal conservative, but I don't think government should tell you who you should marry or what you should do with your body. And people like you Brislin, call them "RINO"s which hurts the party more.

James Bailey Brislin said...

To The King--
I do have reservations about the type of content that Mrs. McMahon's WWE had produced in the past. I have read media reports that WWE has made a significant effort to dial back the use objectionable content in their programming in the past decade, decreasing its TV rating and increasing its viewership.

If I understand it correctly, virtually all of WWE's programming is distributed via Pay-TV channels: e.g. cable, IPTV, satellite, and Pay-Per View. Anyone with common sense knows that if you subscribe to a Pay-TV service, you may encounter programming of a questionable nature. (Which is why my parents were so adamantly against having cable when we were kids.) Since all TVs now contain V-Chips, there is a certain obligation on parents to educate themselves on how to use these V-Chips to limit the programming available to their children and program them appropriately.

To bring the discussion back to point-- I think that whatever concerns I may have about the content of the television programming produced by Mrs. McMahon's enterprise-- that they are quickly eclipsed by the concerns I have about Mr. Shays' support for same-sex marriage and opposition to DADT. Sexual activity of any kind-- heterosexual or homosexual-- has no place in the ranks of the armed forces and is a serious detriment to unite cohesiveness. Likewise, in this age when the President of the United States and the Solicitor General refuse to defend DOMA, the last thing we need is a GOP Senator opposed to the underlying law.

Regarding McCoy and Brian K. Hill-- I have met Mayor McCoy before-- and although I have met him, I have to say that I am very skeptical about his candidacy. How does he explain campaign contributions to Joe Courtney in '06 and '08 and to Bob Casey Jr. in '06? I have met Brian K. Hill and really like him and think he's a sincere conservative-- but he needs to gain some traction to earn my support. The same goes for McCoy.

Something that I have to consider is this-- what if I go over the cliff with a sure loser candidate-- and Shays consequently receives the nomination? Right now, Chris Shays looks like John McCain without a war record. It is "have-half" Republicanism that has gotten us to where we are today; it's time to try something new.

Regarding Markley-- let me ask you-- what kind of criticisms are "above the belt" and what qualifies as "character assassination". I have to say that I haven't seen his letter on this matter, so I have no firm basis upon which to make a judgment. If nothing else, Mr. Shays ought to be accountable for his roll call votes, as they are on the record.

Perhaps the stuff about the debt to his prior campaign is piling on-- but I have to say that a number of us are wondering whether Shays' intends to run hard for the Senate or if his Senate campaign is merely a vehicle for him to raise money that will be used to discharge the debt owed by his '08 campaign-- as Federal law allows unlimited transfers among committees.

James Bailey Brislin said...

Anyone who wants the Republican Party to be about only fiscal issues wants to consign the GOP to permanent minority status in the State of Connecticut.

If fiscal conservatives want to gain any traction in Connecticut, they need to work in coalition with other conservatives and cooperate with them.

If you are under the illusion that campaigning exclusively on fiscal issues is a winning campaign strategy, why don't you go ask Tom Foley how that's worked out for him:

RINO is not a term I bandy about with any regularity-- but anonymous-- you don't know me-- you've never met me and you make a lot of assumptions about me because I'm a social conservative.

Feel free to agree or disagree with my positions-- but at least I'm willing to put my name on my comments and be accountable for them.

James Bailey Brislin said...

This conversation prompted me to do some additional research on Mr. Shays-- regarding his position on 2nd Amendment Rights compared to Mrs. McMahon's. During his years in Congress, Rep. Shays was consistently rated "F" by the NRA. Last August, Martha Dean and Mrs. McMahon were endorsed by the NRA-PVF, with Mrs. McMahon earning a rating of AQ.

At what point do we draw the line in the sand? For me, this issue is decisive. Gun rights may be a social issue-- but fundamentally they are a Constitutional issue. If I cannot trust a candidate to defend my Second Amendment rights, how can I trust him to safeguard the other liberties guaranteed to me in the Bill of Rights?

I want to be clear-- I have not endorsed a candidate for 2012-- if Brian K. Hill can gain traction like Hermann Cain or if another qualified conservative enters the race I will be open to their candidacies. However, I have many serious reservations about Mr. Shays' candidacy. Although I am a conservative, I would be open to and consider the candidacy of a principled moderate. A principled moderate stands behind his principles when they are unpopular-- the way Lieberman stood behind his support of the Iraq war in the face of virulent opposition in 2006. Unfortunately, the moderation of figures like Shays and Rell seems to have its basis in opportunism and "have-half" Republicanism, not in a strongly-held belief in particular principles.

The King said...

James, I can see you're in the tank for Linda McMahon because you've gone off the reservation a bit in your argument. I invite you to tune into her Monday Night Raw show and the other wrestling shows that are CURRENTLY on regular cable television. All this nonsense about satellites, pay-per-view, and V-ships doesn't contridict the fact that her programming is NOT family friendly, is is contrary to any pro-family agenda which I've ever heard from.

You are welcome to attack Chris Shays on social issues, but be warned that Linda McMahon carries nearly the same opinions as Shays does. Is Linda Pro-Life? Does Linda support gay marriage? In fact, Linda has completely gone silent on these issues, and other social issues. She sort of struggled with the economic ones as well.

With regard to conservatism by your definition, you will eventualy have to accept that the pro-Life, anti-traditional family positions that we may share are NOT going to turn the Independent voters our way to win elections. There is no evidence suggesting that chasing Anonymous away with a stick because he or she is not as conservative as you and I might be will help us win elections. In fact its counter-productive. Majorities win, minorities lose.

Tom Foley didn't lose because he wasn't conservative enough. He lost because he lacked charisma, and connection to the common voter. Even with that, he came close.

I'm not sure why you refuse to accept that Linda McMahon's own polling shows that she loses to EVERYBODY in a general election. Chris Shays (while I'm not advocating anyone) shows him defeating one or more Democrats.

You have to ask yourself which ship you may want to go down with? Linda's confusing, issueless one, Shays' fiscal conservative one, or McCoy's or Hill's ambiguous one?

Close only counts in horseshoes and hand-granades. While I applaud your efforts to work for conservative principles, I don't see a Savior in Linda McMahon (or anyone in the race for that matter). And I very much dislike the backroom shananigans she is pulling with delegates and RTCs.

I'm looking forward to the debates, I'm sure we will learn a lot about all four candidates.

Lastly, keep in mind that so-called RINOs vote too. And we desperately need their votes to win elections. So try and be nice while we seek form a grand coalition.

The King said...

Chris Shays' NRA rating is troubling. I agree that we should look into that. I'm sure it will come up in discussions as he crosses the State. I pray it comes up in the debates. In the meantime, we will be subject to half truths (like Markley's letter) and typical campaign propaganda which is as empty and meaningless as most of the candidate's rhetoric.

Also, your points about Jason McCoy's contributions to Democrats should be raised and addressed. I'm hoping to hear a lot more about these allegations and the circumstances therein.

James Bailey Brislin said...

I am not in the tank for Linda McMahon... if you check the record, you will see that I supported Peter Schiff in 2010 and did not support Linda until the general election. The record will also show that I charted my own course-- that I greatly disliked many of the shenanigans that occured at the convention. I am by no means set on her candidacy-- but there are significant qualitative differences between her and Shays worth pointing out.

On abortion, her record is mixed-- she opposes partial birth abortion, opposes government funding for abortion, supports parental notification and supports the appointment of strict constructionist judges-- everything just short of overturning Roe. But that doesn't concern me bwecause Roe will be overturned by the judiciary, not the senate.

It is on the same-sex issues- DOMA, Federal Marriage Amendment, and DADT-- that she stands head and shoulders over Shays. In his prior campaigns, Shays has taken endorsements from the Log Cabin Republicans. McMahon was endorsed by Peter Wolfgang in the last cycle. In my book-- there is an ocean of difference between collaborating with the Log Cabin Republicans and collaborating with the FIC.

I agree that it is worrisome that McMahon's polls show Shays doing better than her-- but I've also been around the ring enough times to know that this early into the race, poll numbers can be fluid-- look at how Bachman and Perry have seen their poll numbers drop in recent months.

As I said, I'm not particularly set on McMahon-- I am open to Brian K. Hill or others if they can show viability. However winning elected office is 95% perspiration (shaking hands, fundraising, giving speeches, meeting people) and 5% inspiration-- and quite frankly-- I don't see Shays pounding the pavement. Hill has visited Enfield-- so has McMahon. Shays has been MIA.

Regarding independent voters, a socially conservative message will turn them out-- most people wast time targeting the wrong people as independent voters-- they target upscale suburban voters. A socially conservative message will change the map in cities like Bristol, Enfield, Waterbury, Torrington, and New Britain.

Dan Reale said...

I'll say the following:

1) Joe Markley has always done right by me. He is, in my experience, a good guy trying to do the right thing. Whatever idea he is buying into on this, although sincere, I wholeheartedly will assert that the approach is wrong, incorrect and/or horribly misguided. I believe he will see the error of this way before all is said and done. I also know for a fact that if McMachon weren't in the mix and only Shays and Hill were, his thinking would dictate Shays - again for the sincere reason of not wanting the Democratic nominee in office.

2) Joe may quite possibly be disillusioned or deluded (whichever the case may be) by "electibilty" at the expense of principle. It happens far too often at the hands of too many good men. I'd suggest that Brian Hill is the best (and last) chance the CTGOP has got. Whether that is understood by Joe before or immediately after the primary is the question. What he does with that will be evident based on the time-frame he realizes the answer.

3) To the King: We in the Libertarian Party desire to and in fact mentor our own. This type of relationship has been lost in the CTGOP entirely. The existence of that in your own party would would make our task inifinitely easier.

Joe Visconti said...

Here's the Skinny Jimmy and King. Shays needs a conversion and McMahon needs an exorcism. A conversion on the 2nd amendment for Shays for starts and an exorcism on being possesed by her own image for Linda for starts.Brian needs to brush up on his presentation stage movements and reasons for running and Jason needs to make us believe why he is running (I saw Brian and Jason in action at the West Hartford RTC meeting this past Monday). So all these folks need to find the winning ground and a sincere connection to the electorate. I will tell you one thing, if I dont see some of the right moves soon by these folks I just may cut my hair and enter the senate race just to upstage all of them.