Forget the fact that regardless of any prior political experience and even after donating to some Democrats she won her party’s nomination for U.S. Senate and is making Democratic opponent Richard Blumenthal sweat.
The true sign that Republican Linda McMahon, former head of Stamford-based World Wrestling Entertainment, has arrived on the political scene is that she has managed to draw a Kennedy into the race.
Or, in the words of campaign spokesman Ed Patru, “Camelot yesterday bestowed its unofficial seal of approval” on Blumenthal.
By now those of you who care about these things I’m sure have heard about the war of words between Edward Kennedy Jr. and McMahon over her campaign’s use of the late President John F. Kennedy in a web ad defending continued tax cuts for the rich.
But please just sit back and relish the absurdity for a moment. A member of the Kennedy clan and all the images, positive and negative, that name conjures and a member of the McMahon clan and the images, postive and negative, that name conjures are fighting over the intentions of a long-dead president.
It’s Camelot versus the WWE. It’s a family some of whom chased skirts versus a family that made money off of female wrestlers who took them off (and whose patriarch, Vince, to be fair to the Kennedys, has admitted doing a bit of skirt chasing). It’s a family whose members represented a generation versus a family whose members have entertained generations. A family that has suffered through real assassinations versus one that has staged them for viewers.
“There’s almost a ‘Saturday Night Live’-dimension to it, to see the former CEO of WWE arguing with a member of the Kennedy clan who’s not in politics here in Connecticut,” Gary Rose, chairman of the department of government and politics at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, just told me. “Somehow they both feel compelled to respond to each other. I’m not sure how to characterize this. It suggests that sometimes our politics can really become just almost comical.”
Rose called the Kennedy/McMahon fight an “inconsequential … sidebar” to the race that is of minimal interest to voters.
“The Kennedy name here in Connecticut was at one time a really major name in Connecticut politics,” Rose said. “But I’m not sure there are any voters out there that really would care. We’re talking about a policy that a President had advocated 50 years ago. Maybe very elderly Democrats might feel offended but other than that I can’t imagine anything like this is going to have any impact.”
But Rose did admit that Republicans may be enjoying the show and that McMahon’s getting a Kennedy worked up might even be considered a “badge of honor” in a state where the GOP once only fantasized about beating Blumenthal.
“I think maybe the Republicans are probably saying, ‘This is wonderful’,” Rose said.
This is hardly the first time McMahon has used a respected dead President to defend herself. She in the past, when answering questions about the family business, has pointed out that Abraham Lincoln wrestled.