The King's Marquee

Election Day is finally here! Let's get out there an seal the deal for Trump and the American people! And don't forget to support the CTGOP under-ticket!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The King's View: Review of the first CT Senate Debate

It can't get any worse than this. Can it?
I realize that this post is considered old news by now, but the piece I published yesterday regarding John Larson’s unwillingness to debate his GOP challenger John Henry Decker was a far more interesting story to communicate, so I opted to delay my review of the first Connecticut Senate Debate by a day or so.

As usual I haven’t read other authors’ opinions of the debate before drafting my own.. And it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if my conclusions fly 180 degrees in the face of conventional wisdom or the thinking of the usual talking heads who lurk out in CTGOP-land. Readers know that just like a Salmon, I run upstream, and against the roaring current. I’m sure this post won’t disappoint in that regard. After all, I’m in the business of changing opinions, not selling the same-old, insulting crud dished out by Party insiders to its gullible thongs.

I tuned-in to the debate with no ill-conceived notions of what to expect. I knew going in that after a stellar performance earlier in the week by Mitt Romney that the only place for the GOP to go was down. Mitt Romney did much better than even I expected - articulating his points with great enthusiasm, and in great detail in what one television personality deemed, “an economist’s dream”. Of course, President Obama helped out by acting as though he didn’t want to be there, or that he didn’t want the job. Having watched Linda McMahon for two years, I anticipated that she would conduct herself in the same manner we’ve all witnessed over the course of the previous election and primary cycle - emotion-less, scripted, and a flat. This isn’t a dig on Linda - it’s simply her personality and presentation style. I had no illusions that she would suddenly launch into song and dance and capture the audience’s imagination with her “charismatic personality“. So, my only hope was for Chris Murphy to bomb. And in my opinion he sort of did just that.

The format for the debate was good. Dennis House is about as fair a political reporter as you can find. As usual, he picked a good group of panelists to ask the tough questions - the ones that he generally avoids. Connecticut politicians are fortunate that Dennis House moderates Face The State. It’s said that if you can’t get your talking points across on Face The State, then you can’t get them out anywhere. Thus, his show is geared to providing the public with useful, unfiltered information as opposed to the “gotcha style” found on other networks. It’s just as well because I’m not sure trying to embarrass or scream over guests before they finish a thought has ever served the public interest very well.

So the panelists were Mark Pazniokas of the The CTMirror, Angela Dias of WTIC, and Fran Schneidau of CBS Radio. Fair enough.

The opening statements set the tone for what was an empty, and bitterly personal debate. McMahon started off well shaping the scope of the problems causing the lack of job creation, and pushing her usual boxed qualifications, and asked if voters were better off electing someone who’s created “millions” of jobs or someone who’s pushed the economy off a cliff. Ouch! Murphy retorted by trying to make himself the champion of the middle class, and ending his statement by claiming that Linda stands up for herself and her profits at the expense of the people who work for her and at the expense of the State of Connecticut. I’m not sure how she’s taken advantage of the State of Connecticut, but fine, I’m moving on. After the opening statements, it was pretty much all downhill from there.

Besides a hum-drum performance by both candidates, the only bursts of excitement came as a result of assorted personal attacks that each candidate continued to level against the other. Aside from this, I didn’t learn anything new about either candidate. I watched the debate twice - my first impression was rather negative of the entire affair, my second impression was much like the first although I tried to parse the points made to see if anyone truly came out the winner. I was disappointed in the lack of detail of plan specifics, and the pettiness of the candidates. I was particularly disappointed in Chris Murphy, who never seemed to get on message or his plan for the future - at times he blurted out several unconnected thoughts as if to try to ram through talking points while avoiding the question posed by the moderator. If Linda was scripted and stoic, Murphy was disorganized and antagonistic. In such a close contest where there was no knock-out punch (it was more like a cat-fight between two women) I fully expected Partisans from each Party to declare victory.

Still, whether fair or not, a young, arrogant Chris Murphy didn’t come off well attacking an older, more reserved Linda McMahon. As Chris Shays learned, its very hard to come out with both barrels attacking Linda McMahon and not be perceived as a bully. it’s particularly difficult when Linda just sort of stares back at you with her eyes and mouth wide open, playing the role of assaulted victim - “shame on you“ seems to work. Murphy’s performance was opposite that of Richard Blumenthal who respectfully managed the situation quite well in the last election cycle by coming across matter-of-factly, and never sinking to the crass level that Chris Murphy did on Tuesday. I’m not sure how the polls will resonate but Murphy’s performance couldn’t have played any better than Chris Shays’ did only a few months back.

Angela Dias asked a fair question about why Connecticut residents should put their trust in either candidates as it seemed that both has had problems putting their own financial houses in order (bankruptcy, late payments, what-have-you). Murphy ignored the question and used the opportunity to slam Linda McMahon for having not paid back $1 million dollars in debts owed from 36 years ago. It’s ironic that Murphy repeatedly said he wanted to make the campaign about issues, but on nearly every occasion he sunk the level of the debate by raising personal attacks against McMahon.

Congressman Murphy missed
87% of his meetings. That's
nothing a good Rolex couldn't fix

McMahon retorted by defecting the question by seemingly referring to her problem as an occasional financial slip (at least that was the perception), she then open fired on Murphy’s poor attendance record. This point remains a slight mystery to those in the cheap seats, either he has a 97% attendance record as he claims, or has missed 87% of the votes as she claims. It can’t be both, and it’s not likely to be either. But what is believable is that Murphy’s attendance record is fair game if it turns out he’s been AWOL instead of representing his constituents.

If there is one area where Linda McMahon has the upper hand, it’s where she claims that Chris Murphy doesn’t have a plan. You can tell there is obvious truth to the point, since everyone knows that he doesn’t have a plan published or available, and Murphy counters about the specifics of her plan because he can’t cite detail from his own (because it doesn’t exist). This hurts Murphy for two reasons. First, for a guy that is serving in Congress at the moment, he should be extremely familiar with the day to day affairs, problems, and potential solutions that should drive a plan that he should already have in place and trying to implement while serving. It’s more than a little awkward, and should be alarming to his constituents that he has talking points, and no plan.
Read my Lips, Linda! I don't have an &*#ing Plan, Ok?
Now let's get back to talking about yours!
Murphy looked rather foolish trying to claim that portions of McMahon’s plan were plagiarized or copied from Republican Party talking points. A petty point to make during a Senatorial Debate. Fact is that since this is largely an ideological debate anyway, one would expect both candidates to have large portions of their plans tailored toward one’s Party’s platform. Ironically, if there is a candidate who's more likely to have difference between their plan and the national platform its likely to be Linda McMahon and not Chris Murphy - who for all intents and purposes is 100% in-step with his Party’s very liberal agenda. By his own admission, he made it clear he is unwilling to entertain the Ryan Plan, and he is adamant in his desire to raise payroll taxes to keep social security afloat, and he also made the omission that he would not repeal even unpopular, anti-business sections of ObamaCare. From this debate we learned that Murphy supports the Democratic platform - hook, line and sinker, and his election to office would not provide an Independent voice, but rather the perfect choir member for the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda. If there is one thing that truly surprised me out of this debate - it’s the unconditional loyalty that Murphy has for the Democratic Agenda.. Murphy’s ads in which he’s claims to be an independent thinker is a work of fiction. And the accusation that Linda’s 20-page full color plan is a plagiarized one likely won’t resonate with the public.

Mark Pazniokas asked about both candidates lack of transparency. Both candidates seemed to imply that Pazniokas was from another planet and they grant plenty of access. While I don’t know much about Murphy’s level of transparency or publishing of schedule, and availability to the press, I do know that this has been an ongoing public relations nightmare for Linda McMahon. Her war against the press is coming back to hurt her - thankfully, the Murphy camp has a similar lack of transparency problem which slightly offsets her perception problem. I think the question that people are asking is why? And what will this mean for either the Press or Public when either Senator McMahon or Senator Murphy are in office. They are quite of the opposite of Senator Blumenthal who (whether you agree with or not) will come right up to you and stand there and talk your head off about any issue you might raise. Trust me. I’ve been there. Paz’s look of “what the hell are you talking about” when Linda said that he and her have had a good time spending time on the trail together was priceless. The look of disgust on his face spoke volumes, and was downright comical.

Fran Schneidau asked a very basic question which should have been a homerun for both candidates had they done their homework and been familiar with the material being discussed; she asked about discretionary spending, and particularly referenced a $1.9 million dollar water taxi expenditure. Given this specific, and outrageous example of gross negligence, it was unfortunate that neither candidate jumped on the provision or offered to revoke funding for this initiative, if elected. Further, precise examples weren’t offered by either candidate for what they would reduce, and worse - Chris Murphy called eliminating loop holes for oil companies a discretionary cut. Huh? This is evidence that he either spews traditional Democratic talking points (ex. Republicans give tax breaks to the wealthy, hate the elderly and children) or he doesn’t understand what a discretionary cut is. Again, not to be understated, Congressman Murphy is actively serving in Congress, he should be able to rattle off dozens of specific bills that he could eliminate, if he’s even slightly paying attention to what’s going on around him while Congress is in session (of course that pre-supposes that he’s actually in attendance).

The sniping between the two candidates continued during the remainder of the questioning. When Angela Dias asked about how Linda McMahon would keep social security solvent for future generations, she talked in generalities about wanting to be a member of a bipartisan committee to solve the problem (my guess is that she is hoping that someone else on that committee has the answer because it was clear to anyone watching that she didn‘t). When it came time for Chris Murphy to respond, he took liberty to demean Linda by saying, “that was a minute and thirty seconds of I’m not going to tell you what I’m going to do if I get elected.” That response was both crass and rude, and his answer - a commitment to raise payroll taxes on everyone probably didn’t win him much support. And it all but guaranteed that his response will probably end up in one of Linda McMahon’s commercials in the near future (much like her misstep on the famed Watertown Meeting where she mentioned having a sunset provision for social security which Murphy is airing via commercial every 20 minutes).

For the Democrat side, the big win of the night came as a result of Mark Pazniokas question regarding Roe v Wade and the selection of a Supreme Court Justice. And I will get to why that mattered in a minute. Now as a practical matter, both Linda McMahon and Chris Murphy are pro-choice candidates, and neither is more pro-choice than the other per se - either you are or you’re not pro-choice. Period. The difference is that Linda McMahon said she wouldn’t vote in favor of a Supreme Court Nominee on the basis of a single issue, but the plurality of the positions for which the Justice adheres to. Chris Murphy on the other hand, clearly stated that he does support a Litmus test for a Supreme Court Justice and would never support a Pro-Life nominee what-so-ever. So much for thoughtful, individual thinking - seems more like another lock-step allegiance to the Democrats very liberal agenda. Murphy’s mind is made up based on ideology rather than an examination of the whole picture, and all the facts.

As for the Blunt Amendment, the issue here deals with the protection of religious institutions from being forced to provide coverage of certain medical procedures and birth control mechanisms which go against the grain of the religious organization’s root faith. For example, why on Earth would Congressman Murphy demand the Catholic Church accept and fund abortion coverage if it goes against Church teaching? It seems that if someone wanted that kind of coverage they would need to go elsewhere to find it - and not demand it from a faith-based organization. That’s an example where a little common sense might be in order, and a little less overzealous liberalism should be abandoned by Mr. so-called Independent thinker, no?

Hear that sound, Jerry?  It's the rumble of
an angry group of  Conservatives feeling
like they've been sold out. You might want
to look into it, and help quell the brewing storm - before its too late!
The reason I mentioned that the Roe v Wade question was a big win for the Democrats was not based on the exchange, or Linda McMahon’s confusion about an assumed national law protecting gay marriage (which Congressman Murphy smugly reminded everyone, doesn’t exist) but because of the post-debate fail-out that the issue has caused within the Republican Party which includes some groups now vowing to not support Linda because of her position on DOMA. In fact, the damage is so bad that the Family Institute of Connecticut’s Peter Wolfgang was forced to retract his endorsement of McMahon the following day as her post-debate comments exacerbated the problem for conservative Republicans. Reports were that his phone was “ringing off the wall”. Whether this issue is enough to sink Linda with the Conservatives in the Party to the point where they will walk away from her is still yet to be determined. I will deal with the matter in more detail in a future post. Whatever one thinks of who won the debate, the devastating blow was not dealt by Pazniokas or by Murphy’s response, but via a self-inflicted wound caused by Linda. Given that the CTGOP alliance is already being held together by masking tape, this situation has deepened the divisions which already exist. From that standpoint, the Democrats couldn’t have asked for more.

Although I believe that most of the questions asked from the panelist were quite fair, I felt that Fran Schneidau sort of got a away with a biased question which was meant to put Linda McMahon on the spot. Schniedau referenced 9.1% unemployment, and a few other negative economic statements and then asked rather coyly, “How has this recession affected you, Mrs. McMahon.” It’s fair to say that Linda was caught flat-footed. Now there were plenty of options for her had she been quick on her feet… such as talking about rising gasoline prices, food prices, insurance premiums, and a host of other impacts to her personal expenses. She could have even pulled out her trump card and talked about the rising expenses on her family business - in fact, she could have dominated the discussion for a good five minutes, going on and on about the negative implications of this recession on WWE. Instead she ignored the question and gave a brief explanation of how business works. Lucky for her, Chris Murphy ignored the question too. Although he gave some ridiculous statement that his family had to go without Healthcare. Are you kidding? Sitting members of Congress have the BEST healthcare benefits for exceeding what any regular citizen’s plan entails. Linda let him get away with that insane answer, and I’m sure she wished he could have that one back.
Fran Schneidau meant to ask: "Mrs. McMahon
isn't it true that since you have a billion-zillion dollars
that you aren't really suffering in this recession?"

The next softball question came from Mark Paziniokas who asked about inequity and poverty - an area that generally tends to favor Democrats. Linda McMahon was first up and again she missed an easy spot to talk at length about her and her company’s rather generous contributions to the less fortunate over the years. I would gather that Linda McMahon has probably contributed millions to charity in comparison to what Chris Murphy has contributed. Lucky for Linda, Chris Murphy also flubbed the question. He gave a rather awkward response about building more low income housing which “brought veterans out of the woods in Waterbury, and out from under the bridge in Stamford.” A sort of bizarre visual that both the panelists and Linda McMahon let slide.

When it came to Angela Dias’ question on each candidate’s position on ObamaCare (or the Healthcare Affordability Act), Linda announced that she was for “Repeal and Replace” which is stark contrast to Chris Murphy’s whole-hearted support for ObamaCare. Personally, I’m disappointed in the “replace” concept because it goes against the grain of our Republican agenda which states that we do not support any form of National Healthcare scheme. We support the 10th Amendment and believe that its up to individual States to decide how to manage Healthcare law. By choosing the language of “Repeal and Replace” it supposes that Linda might support some other National Healthcare provision which could equally as detrimental to taxpayers. And once you go down the road of Replace, you open a Pandora’s Box by being required out explain the “replace with what” question. Good luck.

Linda further went on to bless portions of Obama’s plan and specifically pointing her support for allowing young adults to remain on their parents plan until age 26 (a ludicrous position), and not excluding coverage for pre-existing conditions. Murphy seized the moment by saying that Linda wants to keep the some of the provisions she favors while throwing out the ones she doesn’t, and he added that it doesn’t work that way.
Linda McMahon is against Death Panels
Chris Murphy voted for them, and must support them since
he never submitted legislation to remove them from the bill
Regarding the concept of “Death Panels“, Linda made a strong argument that decision of this nature aught to be between the physician and patient/family and not left to an inserted Government mandated third party panel. Chris Murphy on the other hand didn’t reject the notion of these panels but only offered that family members should be consulted. This is an issue worth following up on in a future debate, for certainly - as a sitting Congressman, Chris Murphy has not proposed or co-sponsored any legislation removing the Death Panel concept from the Law. Perhaps Linda would do well to remind the voters of this important matter next time around.

The most absurd comment of the night came from Chris Murphy. Interestingly enough the media nor Linda McMahon jumped on it either during or after the debate. Chris Murphy went on a tirade not once but twice in the same segment accusing Linda McMahon of producing “personal attacks against me, my wife, and my family.” Now, several of us went back to try and identify what Congressman Murphy is referring to and to be honest none of us where able to come up with anything substantial where the Congressman’s wife or family fell pray to serious criticism.

What is problematic about the exchange is the way that Linda McMahon failed to address such a blatant lie. Unless the accusation was true, she should have IMMEDIATELY fired back that the accusation is flatly untrue. As I thought about it, the fact that she allowed the Congressman to repeat the accusation and failed to respond to it, gave me the impression that perhaps Linda did in some way attack his family and wife. If I felt this way, then neutral viewers must have also assumed that Linda had made such personal attacks. If the McMahon campaign is in their right mind, they won’t allow this to go unresponded to for the perception left of Linda is quite negative based on her lack of outrage, or a counter-statement.


OK, I’ve written quite a bit here. Granted it’s a tough read. For the most part, the debate was a draw since neither candidate made a big enough splash to knock the other one out. The Democrats will claim victory on the basis that this is a blue state, and given that reason, the onus is on Linda to give Independents and some Democrats a reason to move right to support a Republican. On the other hand, Chris Murphy didn’t exactly come across Senatorial by any means. His disorganization, lack of details, lack of plan, and general rude demeanor made him appear unfit for the Senate.

Given the overall impressions left by this debate, I believe Linda McMahon came out slightly ahead. She wasn’t dynamic or articulate, but she seemed more prepared and organized in her responses. She also came across more moderate than Chris Murphy who is clearly liberal and not independent in his thinking. The only question left to figure out is the impact of Linda’s DOMA gaff. One thing appears true… Democrat moderates appear to be able to support Liberal Democrat politicians, while on the other side of the fence Conservative Republicans can’t seem to suffer Republican Moderates very well. If that is the key to the race, then Linda McMahon could be doomed before the first vote is cast.

One thing is for sure, the next two debates aught to be very interesting.

Here are a few side points that need to be driven home regarding the debate:

1. The debate was downright ugly and disappointing. All things being equal, the participants didn’t conduct themselves with the respect and dignity which the office truly requires. The candidates must show that they have more to offer than what the Constitution minimally requires of a Senator Candidate - years of attainment, and residency. Americans expect much more of a candidate for an office of this importance.

2. The candidates both appear to have a superficial understanding of economics, provisions, laws, and government process. In some cases, not being able to properly cite the laws of the land, executive orders, or in Murphy’s situation be able to quote the specific legislation that he’s either passed or voted against. This is more a disappointment of Congressman Murphy who is actively serving in Congress. He couldn’t provide a list of planned discretionary cuts he supports, or even produce a plan for economic recovery after serving during President Obama’s Presidential term. Nor could he suggest specific places were spending cuts could be made. For an active Congressman, he’s comes across very disengaged.

3. Linda McMahon would do well to move from applying general, superficial responses to questions and begin to provide pointed, and specific, or detailed answers. This beating around the bush for a minute and half is unnerving for her supporters. Given the wealth of technology, tools, and manpower at her disposal, she should be able to comb through Congressman Murphy’s extensive 6-year voting record and provide specific examples where the Congressman has cast votes that have let his constituents down.  By this point, she should be able to outline the dozens of votes that Congressman Murphy has made to increase taxes on the Middle Class, or created regulatory burdens for business. It’s no longer enough to just claim that he has increased taxes on the middle class -- its time to start saying where… and using bill numbers.

There is no foul in going after some one's voting record (although at one point it was curious that Chris Murphy said he wanted to discuss Linda's???).  If Murphy's record is so bad Linda should be able to be able to figuratively grab him by the hair and throw him from turnbuckle to turnbuckle without anyone being able to cry foul.  Six years is plenty of time to get a handle on voting trends on taxes, foreign policy, and whatever else there is. Time to get cracking and raise specific grievances!

Hint: Go back and watch the first Romney v Obama debate and notice how articulate and prepared Mitt Romney was on every issue. He presented facts, figures, and details. This is a sign of showing respect for his audience, and the position he wishes to earn. Connecticut is one of the most educated states in the union, please afford our residents with the proper respect they deserve by living up to the standard, and rising to the occasion. I’ve seen fourth graders debate with more accuracy and detail than the two candidates we saw on Tuesday.

4. The candidates must stop going tit for tat over meaningless dribble. Bankruptcy, late payments, attendance records, and endless personal attacks only muddy the waters and do little to educate voters on where they stand or would vote on the issues. Despite their personal flaws and failures, either one or the other is going to wind up in the Senate (so much for Connecticut’s brightest and best). The commercials you are airing (even post-debate) are annoying. How about a few commercials telling people what you are going to do, not what your opponent has or will do. Shame on both of you!

5. Both candidates should make themselves available to the press, conduct press conference, openly field questions, and give the transparency that the office should and will require. Hiding behind an impenetrable wall of paid political insiders reeks of misplaced celebrity self-adulation. Look to Senator Blumenthal for a good example of how to conduct oneself in the public light, and on the campaign trail.

6. Linda McMahon should stop claiming she’s in this race for her Grandchildren. Her Grandchildren will want for nothing, and the continued claim that they might one day be at a financial disadvantage because of Democratic policies is insulting to the audience. (Of course, if she continues to spend $80 million dollars per campaign, I guess their inheritance could be at risk)

7. The candidates should answer the questions being posed. There is a reason there is a panel and moderator at the debate - let them do their jobs. Too many times, both candidates wanted to disregard the valuable questions being asked by the panel in order to get the last word on a previous insult exchange between each other. Wouldn’t it be nice if our candidates just answered the questions being posed instead of going off on a tangent or providing an answer to a question that wasn’t asked? Or dragging the debate down a never-ending rat hole of petty personal attacks?

8. Linda McMahon must figure out her next step regarding how to handle social issues, and try to patch up the new problem within fragile CTGOP alliance. God knows that the media is dying to ask a new round of social issue questions knowing all to well that conservatives are already on the fringe just waiting to jump off the bandwagon. The idea that you can win without the right wing of the party in a close race like this is a fool’s suggestion. Patch it up now before its too late.



This original blog entry can be found at

Disclaimer: This entry and others will be modified/updated at a future date. All entries are for the sole purpose of entertainment. This article does not imply endorsement of the candidate mentioned above, nor has this article been solicited for publication by any political candidate, campaign, or PAC.



Anonymous said...

It's hard to imagine that Connecticut is stuck choosing between these two. A crazy wrestling lady, and a know-it-all kid.

Anonymous said...

King, if you want to write a real story why don't you write about the fact that no-one answers the phone at GOP Headquarters. It's no wonder why Linda McMahon thinks Jerry Labriola and his side-kick Cafferelli aren't worth a bucket of crap. All your dreams of unity vanished the minute she locked up the nomination.

Now Linda McMahon is flipping off Peter Wolfgang and Conservatives with her over the top pro-abortion tv commercials. I bet Labriola told Wolfgang to shut his mouth which is why no one is standing up for the real republicans in this state. What will be the excuse after November?

Joe Visconti said...

Hey Anom ass,regarding the phones not being answered at CTGOP headquarters, yes they are but guess what dummy, there are so many freaking people calling that maybe your dumb ass call went into voice mail. Btw why the hell aren't you down at headquarters or at the Bristol Victory headquarters making volunteer calls as others have been with me? Just yesterday me and other volunteers called almost every 169 town chairman regarding Victory needs.On another note I would like to see all State Central Members working the phone lines asap, you can call Nolan Davis to sign up and I don't want to hear BS excuses why this is not done. We have numerous phone lines and Wifi in Bristol plus coffee and donuts so let's see folks step up and not lay down in this pivotal time for the GOP.

Baby Pegasus said...

If Republicans in this state want to be taken seriously they need to elect articulate conservative candidates with a distinct vision of where they want to take the state and country. I find it pathetic that CT Republicans keep nominating moderates hoping they can sneak one out. Can't anyone see that this approach has failed CT time and time again?

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I too am offended by Linda's pro-abortion commercials, a slap in the face of CT social conservatives, if only Murphy understood how much Linda avoids us and the tea party like the plague, also, in last night's debate, Linda seemed to be flipping off even the CT GOP, touting her so-called independence, that made me squirm too, given her ties to the Dems/Libs, I will give her my unenthusiastic vote, but not my time or money, because Murphy is a proven threat to us, and I'll keep my fingers crossed regarding Linda... Is this the best we can do? Sad for CT... Sincerely, A Friend of Both Joe & Peter