October 8, 2012

Say what?

The Hartford Courant provided this summation of Sunday morning's debate between Republican Linda McMahon and Democrat Chris Murphy who are vying for the U.S. Senate seat from Connecticut being vacated by retiring Joe Lieberman.

As noted in the piece, the World Wrestling Entertainment mogul has based her entire campaign on personal attacks, resorting to the typical Republican boilerplate devoid of specifics when asked about policy. On Sunday morning that strategy met with a resounding thud.

[N]othing really explains her astonishing moment of blankness when asked about same-sex marriage. She stumbled through an answer in which she affirmed her support for “America’s same sex marriage law.” There is, of course, no such thing, unless she means DOMA, which is sort of the opposite. And then she just stopped, with probably more than a minute left on her clock. Nobody does that. If you’ve got a short answer, you pivot and talk about something loosely related with your remaining time. She seemed inexplicably rattled by this benign, predictable and routine question. (This is what happens when you spend your whole campaign dodging the press. You turn into the kind of candidate who can’t improvise.)

As the issue-based battles started slipping away from her, McMahon upped the ante on the personal attacks. If you’re a little tired of the way this campaign has been almost exclusively about attacks on character and very little about the issues, let the word go forth that McMahon was far more reliant on this strategy than was Murphy on Sunday. Paradoxically, late in the debate she unsheathed a new kind of negative rhetoric, claiming that Murphy had expected a coronation and instead found himself in a tough campaign with a serious woman. The paradox: never before in this campaign had she seemed less like a serious woman. She seemed like a silly woman who had attempted to substitute recent study sessions for the years of immersion one might expect an aspiring senator to have had.

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