Linda McMahon’s Scandals Are Softballs Blumenthal Will Knock Out of the Park

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May 1, 2010
‘Connecticut’s Meg Whitman Clamps Media in Wrestling Sleeperhold’ (full text)
May 4, 2010

While leaving little to the imagination about what I think of Linda McMahon’s Senate bid, I try to avoid horse-race punditry. The Republican nomination and the general election for the U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut are for the people of Connecticut to decide.

I believe they should be basing their decisions on facts, not smoke and mirrors. But at the end of the day, Republicans can go ahead and offer up the sister-in-law of Scott Brown’s truck mechanic, and voters can choose the Emir of Shmoe to succeed Chris Dodd. If this blog’s project is the book hustle that some perceive as its sole purpose, then bring on the circus; it’s good for sales.

However, at this point, with the media doing such a poor job of vetting this largely unknown political quantity, and with presumptive Democratic nominee Richard Blumenthal stumbling a bit out of the gate, an outsider would like to point out a thing or three about the elephant in McMahon’s closet – which is actually an entire pack of pachyderms.

For all of Blumenthal’s supposed difficulty in finding his voice, and for all the presumed free-floating anger of the electorate this year, does anyone out there really believe for a second that the cumulative unexamined scandals in McMahon’s business background would not become certifiable partisan fodder in the fall campaign?

Coverage of the McMahon nomination quest has barely scratched the surface. Brian Lockhart of Hearst suggested, but didn’t close the deal on, the behind-the-scenes hanky-panky relating to a dropped investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of World Wrestling Entertainment drug-testing policies. I can easily see the Blumenthal camp allowing that one to continue to sit there, unresolved, for a couple of reasons. First, Henry Waxman’s conclusions, in substance, were for the most part on the mark, even if the timing and delivery of them were oddly convenient for McMahon. Second, the “fixers” of the Congressional investigation denouement were almost certainly a mix of Republicans and Democrats – and Blumenthal would get negative mileage out of exposure of the latter.

The strangely muted story of Linda and Vince McMahon’s 1990s federal criminal investigation and trial is another matter. Coverage by Ted Mann of The Day in New London has implicated a former U.S. attorney in Pennsylvania, during a Republican administration in Washington, in a tip to the McMahons and their wrestling company of the boom being lowered on their wrestlers’ steroid connection. This sets up the whole narrative of the generation-long death pandemic in the wrestling industry, from whose accountability Linda McMahon can hide for only so long. Equally pertinent is that the content of this story is right up the alley of Richard Blumenthal, a career public prosecutor. I would expect him to make some hay with it.

Then there’s all the Linda dirt that absolutely no one, save your humble blogger, so far has ventured to touch on at all – including, but not limited to, something that looks an awful lot like witness-tampering by the McMahons’ defense lawyer’s husband prior to their 1994 trial; and the company pedophile scandal, so ham-handedly co-managed by the favorite mother and grandmother of Republican women.

The Connecticut media have played the WWE YouTube card and come up empty, and they seem to be concluding that no one cares. But if Linda McMahon is the Republican flag-bearer, the questions raised by her better-funded and less restrained Democrat opponent figure to be sharper and more effective. If so, look for the media to go on to frame this as an entertainingly “dirty” campaign, even if it’s one they have done their share to sow.

Irv Muchnick

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