Linda McMahon stuck her foot in her mouth last week and failed to close the door, absolutely and unambiguously, on any consideration of a decrease in the national minimum wage. The episode is fully documented, by transcript and on videotape. So is her handlers’ immediate scramble to “walk it back.”
By Monday’s televised debate with her Senate opponent Richard Blumenthal, McMahon was trying to put across that the only thing she would want to review about the minimum wage was the size of its increase.
After the debate, Linda’s automated ads on Google flipped the switch to the wishful-thinking headline LINDA WINS.
But McMahon had goofed. We all goof. Her goof was funnier than most because it was in the glare of a political campaign whose communications McMahon’s $50 million of self-funding tightly control. Under the circumstances, I think the goof is fatal.
On the social networks, McMahon henchpeople went right to work trying to smear the reporting of Ted Mann of the New London Day. Unfortunately for them, the documentation of this painfully off-message exchange shows that maybe it wasn’t so off-message at all. For Linda was uttering these lines not only redundantly but also in her very own forum: a press conference announcing her endorsement by the National Federation of Independent Business, which opposes any increase in the minimum wage.
Mann asked McMahon point-black, and in no way that could be interpreted as a trap, if she would “argue for reducing the minimum wage now.” Linda replied: “We have got minimum wages in states, we have got minimum wages in the [federal] government, and I think we ought to look at all of those issues in terms of what mandates are being placed on businesses and can they afford them. I think we should get input from our business community. We should listen to our small business operators and we should hear what it is they have to say and how it’s impacting their businesses and make some of those decisions.”
Rick Green of the Hartford Courant has beaten me to the punch with a blog highlighting the sad shoot-the-messenger mode of Linda McMahon and, more ominously, Linda McMahonism. See “McMahon Channels Agnew: When All Fails, Blame the Media,” http://blogs.courant.com/rick_green/2010/10/mcmahon-channels-agnew-when-al.html.
But Green’s Spiro Agnew comparison, in my view, is trivial and too kind. This is stuff out of Orwell or Kim Jong-il. Or, forgive me, Monday Night Raw.
Voters of Connecticut, take note.