I loved Matt Bai’s anthropology of my adopted state of Connecticut-the Land of Steady Habits, as he calls it-in his NYT Magazine piece about Republican Linda McMahon’s race for Senate. Bai shows how McMahon bought her way to a victory in the Republican primary because there was almost no party establishment left to stand up to her. Much of it having been indicted before she showed up. He also shows McMahon’s Democratic opponent, Richard Blumenthal, in the careful but plodding mode that seems to be the only version of running for office he can muster. Blumenthal has been plenty hard charging as attorney general but now he can only repeat his understanding of voter anger on autopilot, ” as if he were dictating a letter.” McMahon, meanwhile, keeps talking about how she is a businesswoman: ” My business is creating jobs. My business is adding and building to the economy. So it’s just a very clear choice.”
Barack Obama and Bill Clinton have tried to help Blumenthal by stumping for him. Ted Kennedy’s son has objected to how McMahon is using his uncle, President John F. Kennedy, in an ad. But the latest poll shows McMahon continuing to gain. She is 5 points behind with a margin of error of 4.5. Blumenthal needs to find the fire in his belly. Bai dismisses the idea of making more of the deaths of young wrestlers associated with the McMahon wrestling empire, WWE, where steroid use has reportedly been rampant forever. But I don’t see why. If your business succeeds by goading your employees to take huge risks with their lives, you’re not in a position to sell yourself as a model. Connecticut, with its 9 percent unemployment rate, may no longer be the land of placid plenty. But discontent doesn’t have to mean a vote for McMahon if Blumenthal can define himself, and her, more sharply.
Photograph of Linda McMahon from Wikimedia Commons.