Disheartening. That’s really the only word that came to mind after watching Sunday’s debate between candidates for the U.S. Senate Chris Murphy and Linda McMahon. As I stared around at the Democratic Headquarters, where a watch party for the event was being conducted, I did not see the type of optimism and upbeat attitude that one would expect, given the circumstances. After all, Chris Murphy had just trounced his Republican opponent in their first debate, just a month away from the election no less. But, instead, a feeling of dismay was prevalent; Linda McMahon did not only lose the debate, but she brought shame upon herself, her state, and her potential constituents.
I have a deep-rooted respect for the United States Senate. While there may be some wacko members of the House (see Todd Akin’s comments about legitimate rape), I regard the Senate as a more august body, one that fosters issues oriented discussion about the problems that face the country. While I may fundamentally disagree with them, senators such as Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and Orrin Hatch present a well-supported opinion about what the role of government should be. These men, although they hold opinions contrary to mine, are what make the Senate America’s greatest beacon of republican government, in which policy is formed to address our nation’s needs. But in Linda McMahon, as displayed on Sunday, the Republicans have nominated someone far short of this benchmark.
The former WWE executive made no real attempt to argue coherently about her stances on the issues. On the deficit, she proposed to cut 1% from the federal budget. How? She ruled out Social Security, Medicare, and the military, but didn’t go beyond that. Even if she did manage to cut 1% of the annual budget, that would only cover a tenth of the loss of revenue incurred by her proposed tax cut.
On LGBT rights, she gave her support to the national gay marriage bill (of which there is none) and used up only a third of her time in response to the question posed to her, a true statement about how hard she would fight against those of her own party for civil rights after she supposedly “changed (her) position” on the Defense of Marriage Act since her unsuccessful 2010 bid. Instead of addressing issues like these, she pivoted to personal attacks, revolving mostly around low committee attendance and a mortgage refinancing Murphy received from Webster Bank.
These petty attacks, in addition to her repetition of the sound-bite “Shame on you, Congressman!”, only painted her as a nasty, non-issues based candidate lashing out at a career public servant. McMahon has spent millions to bring in those behind the Willy Horton scandal that brought down Michael Dukakis in 1988 and the smearing of John Kery’s war record in 2004 so that she can try to do the same thing to Chris Murphy instead of actually immersing herself in the issues and learning how best to serve the public.
He may not be perfect, and I disagree with some of his positions such as foreign policy toward Israel, but, policy aside, at least Chris Murphy is the type of person I’d be proud to represent me in Washington. Having Linda McMahon represent my state for the next six years, as displayed in Sunday’s debate, is a truly scary prospect and one that must be averted.