Published September 09. 2012 4:00AM
Another day, another misleading television commercial from wrestling zillionaire Linda McMahon, the Republican nominee for U.S. senator.
For weeks McMahon has been broadcasting commercials attacking her Democratic rival, U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, for missing congressional hearings four years ago as if such attendance is important. It's not. Much testimony is just posturing and it is all put in printed form afterward anyway. Absence from hearings by members of Congress and the General Assembly is routine. What's important is attendance at votes, and Murphy claims a 97 percent congressional voting record.
Now McMahon is accusing Murphy of neglecting Connecticut's military contractors. "Because Congress didn't do its job and eliminate wasteful spending," McMahon says in her new commercial, "automatic budget cuts now threaten 35,000 defense jobs here in Connecticut. Good jobs at Electric Boat, Sikorsky, and Pratt & Whitney are endangered. And Congressman Chris Murphy actually supports even more across-the board defense cuts."
Yes, to keep the government operating a few months longer amid partisan gridlock over the federal budget, Congress passed a law requiring big spending "sequestration" at the end of the year. The idea was that this would concentrate minds in both parties and lead to an agreement after the election. But this "sequestration" is a bipartisan policy, supported not just by Murphy and the Democrats but also by the Republicans whose ranks McMahon would join in Congress. The crucial issue here, as McMahon suggests, is defining "wasteful spending" - an issue she remains determined to avoid.
McMahon's vaunted "plan" for governing calls for a 1-percent cut in federal spending each year until a balanced budget is achieved.
"A 1 percent reduction in spending does not necessarily mean a 1-percent across-the-board cut," the "plan" says. "Proper budgeting requires setting priorities and making decisions - it is about making trade-offs between competing wants and limited resources."
But of course McMahon's "plan" offers no priorities and tradeoffs and fails to specify any budget cuts, one constituent's "waste" being another constituent's vital service or income. Thus McMahon's "plan" leaves the country in the same situation she blames Murphy for. The only difference is that she has infinite money to spend on commercials ridiculing him.
Meanwhile Cathy Malloy, the governor's wife, vented her resentments for a few minutes last week at the Democratic National Convention, telling an abortion rights group about her irritation with news coverage of the personal and family lives of public officials. She cited reports about her recent ticketing by police for failing to wear a seat belt and about the criminal trouble a few years ago involving her son, then suffering from a drug problem.
"People do not appreciate people in public life as they should," Mrs. Malloy said. "Americans eat their politicians up every day. And this is a huge problem. Not only do we get beat up - our children get beat up. It's a tough business."
Mrs. Malloy's complaint had been publicized for only a few hours before she was apologizing for it in a statement issued by the governor's office, which insisted that she really considers news coverage of her and her family to have been fair.
Maybe it has been fair and maybe it hasn't been. Even when fair, such coverage can be annoying. But there are some consolations for the first lady and the governor here.
First, the seat belt ticketing incident was actually more humorous than anything else and even a bit uplifting for showing the impartiality of law enforcement and the lack of special treatment for the governor's wife, who, as she griped at the convention, drives an older car and has no security detail of her own.
And second, few people pay attention and most of those who do soon forget everything anyway. Proving this may be Linda McMahon's great purpose on Earth.