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GOP keeps handing Senate seat to Dems

By Dick Ahles

Publication: The Day

Published October 22. 2012 4:00AM

After watching all four debates between the two candidates seeking to fill the Senate seat being vacated by Joe Lieberman, you must say this for Linda McMahon: As bad as she may be, she's still a far better candidate than the last two Republicans who sought that seat.

If your memory permitted you to forget those candidates, they were Alan Schlesinger, the Derby lawyer best known for being banned from casinos for his widely acknowledged skills as a card counter, and Philip Giordano, the mayor of Waterbury who is currently serving 37 years in a federal prison for using his cell phone to arrange sexual appointments with little girls.

Schlesinger, who was actually pretty clever in debates, received only 10 percent of the vote in a three-way race that saw him come in third to Lieberman, running as an independent, and Democrat Ned Lamont.

But to our embarrassment, about 400,000 voters supported Giordano, giving him 34 percent of the vote. True, that was before his sexual preferences were known, except to his victims and procurers.

Speaking of embarrassment and gracefully returning to the current contest for Lieberman's seat, you were undoubtedly pleased to hear in the last debate that neither McMahon nor Democrat Chris Murphy is embarrassed by the nasty and inaccurate things they're saying about each other in the commercials that have been assaulting our good taste for what seems like many months.

But each of them admitted to being embarrassed by the vicious and inaccurate statements in his or her opponent's commercials, so they can recognize something vicious and inaccurate when they see them, only not their own.

And before we leave the subject of embarrassment, I've concluded it would be less embarrassing for Connecticut to send Murphy to the Senate than McMahon. Sometimes, though, it's been close.

Murphy gave McMahon every opportunity to prove she's more than a rich candidate trying to buy a second consecutive Senate election and she failed.

Even though the debates, all four of them, were heavy with Democratic and Republican talking points, generalities and clichés, McMahon proved unable to go beyond them and Murphy stood out as the smarter one.

I can't imagine voting for a candidate who, when asked how she would go about reforming Social Security, would admit, "I have not talked about specifics when I have been on the campaign trail because they get demagogued. There are many ways that we can reform Social Security and Medicare and we must do that," she added by way of amplification.

Murphy noted people running for the Senate should tell voters what they're going to do and he did say he'd lift the cap on the payroll tax, which is raised all the time and is currently $106,800 of a person's annual income. Not much of a reform, but enough to risk "getting demagogued."

Both candidates have shown a remarkable inability to get through an answer without using the words "jobs" and "middle class" but McMahon really outdid herself when a questioner shockingly brought up what the candidates might do for the poor. (The poor don't vote in great numbers and that is why they are mentioned far less frequently than the middle class and the "job creators," the new Republican way of saying "the rich.")

McMahon repeated every trickle down activity in her six-point jobs plan, telling the audience she'd deal with the growing gap between rich and poor by cutting taxes and regulations that "really hurt business." I was surprised she failed to advocate the elimination of the inheritance tax (death tax in Republican-speak) as a way to eliminate poverty.

Just as McMahon doesn't want to burden business with too many regulations, I don't want to burden you with too many more reasons to send Murphy to the Senate instead of McMahon. Suffice it to say, he's smarter than she is, he has some Congressional experience and he won't be one more Republican vote for a Supreme Court justice or getting into a questionable war.

We're not dealing with Websters or Clays here, not even Ribicoffs or Weickers. Murphy may not even be another Lieberman, but as another Republican Senate candidate, the card counting Schlesinger, might have said, "you deal with the hand you've got."

Dick Ahles is a retired journalist from Simsbury.

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