This hit print last week, but I failed to post it online until today. I wonder if Daniela Altimari of the Courant read it in print before writing this: For McMahon, Party’s Not Part of Her Pitch.
If politics is warfare by other means, then Linda McMahon’s self-financed campaign for U.S. Senate is a masterful information warfare campaign, where McMahon is sold to the public as someone she is not.
I’ve never had much faith in the Democratic Party to bear the torch for progressive thought, but this election cycle, Chris Murphy is all we have to combat Linda McMahon and her phony for-the-people campaign. Since he has so little money, here is some free strategy for him. He can take it or leave it.
McMahon appears well into a three or four year plan to purchase a seat in the United States’ Senate. History shows her failed challenge to Senator Richard Blumenthal in 2010. A Republican with a pulse would have done better than she did for her $50 million in 2010.
This year, though, with only $15 million so far, McMahon has managed to poll a dead heat with Rep. Chris Murphy eight weeks from election day. So at a total $65 million investment, McMahon may walk away with the ability to stop any piece of legislation in its tracks.
Imagine there is a bill to regulate violent television entertainment. McMahon could put a secret hold on it. She is trying to purchase power she cannot buy through lobbyists. Her constant repetition of “Linda” and “Senator” may be enough to convince people she is electable.
This is stunning, and reveals how weak democracy is in the face of massive campaign dollars. Yet the U.S. Supreme Court’s equation that speech is money prevents the citizenry from stopping McMahon from buying power.
And, she is doing all this without the press, through a closed campaign that denies media access and accountability. One hopes that Murphy can best her in debates and show how one-dimensional she is.
But two or three hours of debates in two nights is not enough to beat back months of constant repetition of Linda, Linda, Linda.
McMahon’s her strategy is to present herself as more in touch with people, and more populist than Murphy. Her well-funded public relations machine is convincing Nutmeg voters that she is may be a one percenter, wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice, but she is no oligarch.
McMahon presents herself as a benevolent creature, devoid of character flaws that Blumenthal exploited. Two years later, the curse of the short-memoried public haunts Murphy, who cannot seem to dredge up the anti-porn and violence fervor McMahon once incited.
Murphy is no Ned Lamont. Murphy has said that if elected, he would be the poorest member of the millionaire’s club that is the U.S. Senate.
Lamont’s own multi-million investment into upending Joe Lieberman worked partially in 2006. Lamont purchased ad space in bulk, and recruited an army of volunteer bloggers to draft messages and create earned media. Murphy has not been good at earned media. Murphy needs to go viral, and go quick. But how to catch lightning in a bottle?
Lamont’s campaign had an urgency – ending the Iraq War – that Murphy’s lacks. Despite a terrible economic slump and the arrival of the Second Gilded Age for the McMahon’s of the world, Murphy has not been able to generate the palpable excitement and grassroots support to guarantee him a victory in November.
This week, he beggared himself at the Democratic National Convention down south, looking for corporate donations to offset McMahon’s staggering war chest. In doing so, he precludes himself from espousing a stronger populist rhetoric.
As an incumbent Congressman who failed to champion certain measures in Congress, Murphy cannot run on increasing the minimum wage, or ending student loan debt, or increasing taxes on the rich. The party bigs at the DNC will not give him money, and he doesn’t have this kind of a record to run on.
Not that I ever expected Murphy to be a Fighting Bob LaFollette, so perhaps there are more creative ways of attacking Linda McMahon that Murphy could espouse.
For example, why not work harder to tie McMahon to the national GOP platform? As soon as Missouri Congressman and Senate candidate Todd Akin mouthed off about “legitimate rape,” McMahon differentiated herself from Akin’s vision of the GOP.
Don’t think for a second that Akin’s vision of the Republican Party is not mainstream. Even though Karl Rove may joke that if Akin is mysteriously murdered, don’t go looking for him, other members of the GOP hierarchy have Akin’s back.
Current GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan has sponsored bills with Akin in Congress regarding no-exception abortions even in the event of “forcible” or “legitimate rape.” Of course, Ryan has since backed off of that.
Ryan has also backpedaled off of his boast that he ran a sub-three hour marathon. He didn’t. It was an outright lie. Can anyone here see Harry Truman saying he ran a 100 meter dash in under 11 seconds if he didn’t actually accomplish that? Me neither.
Murphy would have an easier time of running against Todd Akin than Linda McMahon. Congressman Akin said that student loans are a stage three cancer of socialism. So why doesn’t Murphy try to tag this belief onto McMahon?
If Akin wins in Missouri and defeats incumbent Claire McCaskill, it is easy to see Akin submitting legislation to ban student loans. Today’s GOP is not the party of Republican Senator Robert Stafford of Vermont, who introduced federally-backed student loans.
Perhaps Murphy could portray McMahon as an untested neophyte who lacks the spine to be independent of party thought (like a Lieberman), and imply that she would back a guy like Akin.
Or maybe Murphy should try to highlight other absurdist GOP platforms, like the one from the Texas Republican Party that calls for abolishing the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, direct elections of Senators.
Previous to 1910, U.S. Senators were elected by state legislatures. While Murphy would have a much better chance than McMahon of being senator if the 17th Amendment never existed, a Ned Lamont could not have happened that way either.
McMahon is pretending she is not a Republican. She is running away from the GOP. Her campaign color co-opted the traditional Democratic Party’s blue. So the uninformed voter, the one who hasn’t made up their minds by November 1, may be stupid enough to see blue, and think, Linda is a Democrat.
Why? The word Republican appears once on her front page, and that is in really small type. None of her lawn signs or ads say “Republican.”
She made her own campaign logo – a circle with an “L” in it, that almost makes it look like she is her own party. The Party of Linda. Linda. Linda. Linda.
Connecticut is not a Republican state right now. Murphy needs to tar McMahon with the national insanity of the GOP. The GOP accepts outright liars amongst their midst: consider that their Vice Presidential candidate lied about his time in a marathon. Why would anyone do that?
The GOP denies science, like with Akin saying that female bodies have a way of preventing pregnancy during rape. Or with constant global warming denials.
Murphy should be running against the GOP and tying McMahon to her party, the GOP of the sociopathically rich. The GOP uses all of these stupid politician tricks and social issues as a wedge to hide their real motives of class warfare of the rich, for the rich and by the rich.
While a McMahon win would make her the 18th woman in the U.S. Senate, it would be a shame for her to be the 51st vote for the GOP.