The other night in my hometown of Stamford, Connecticut, I had the fortune to be in the audience for a marvelous local production of 1776; a show which, in its original incarnation on Broadway in 1969, won a Tony Award for best musical over the likes of such blockbusters as Hair and Zorba. Having seen a 1997 revival and the somewhat disappointing movie version numerous times, I was surprised that my fellow audience members did not get all the jokes, and indeed laughed during the most poignant moments of the show.
Living as I have in Connecticut all my life I shouldn't have been surprised, given the state of education in our state. Yet, the show's climax -- the victorious conclusion of the vote for American Independence -- was accompanied by a hearty round of applause from folks who hopefully recognized their state's key role in that historic occasion.
Now, call me an optimist, or one still in the thrall of what Clive Barnes called "a most striking, most gripping musical," but this small event gave me hope that this revolutionary spirit might retake the somnambulant voters of the Constitution State, so much so, that they might be inspired to declare independence from the Democratic tyranny which has gripped us -- particularly at the national level -- for so many years. And in this era of tea partying, it's looking more and more likely.
After having deposed longtime RINO Christopher Shays and replaced him with a genuine liberal two years ago, voters can send a message by sending Jim Himes home after only one term. This seems to be sinking in as his TV ads hysterically paint him as an independent, even though he voted with his party over 94 percent of the time. Not to worry, though, he claims to have said "no" to "Democratic leaders"; just not on the stimulus package, card-check, healthcare or cap and trade. This contest is now a dead heat.
Likewise, our gubernatorial race is tight one, with former Stamford mayor Dan Malloy in a dogfight with first-time candidate, businessman Tom Foley. Malloy, an old schoolmate of mine, has an impeccable Democratic pedigree, but that won't help him in his hometown -- where he was replaced by a Republican -- as the city's unemployment rate nearly doubled during his years in office. And as it is throughout most of the northeast, the people seem to prefer a daddy to run their nanny states: edge Foley.
It seems shocking to even contemplate, but this is not a good time to be a Democrat here in New England. Even old liberal warhorse and Ted Kennedy pal Chris Dodd mused about the coming onslaught: "The only second thoughts I've had [about the decision to retire] are about how brilliant the first thought was."
Which brings us to the real heavyweight fight: Linda McMahon versus Dick Blumenthal for Dodd's seat. Disregard what the polls say -- just as in the special Massachusetts Senate race, dyed-in-the-wool Democrats are loath to divulge their true preferences to pollsters -- the longtime Attorney General and the wrestling magnate are engaged in a death match.
So fearful are Democrats of losing this one, that they brought in the president to stump for Blumenthal; President Clinton, that is. And true to his reputation for spin-doctoring double-speak, he proclaimed: "All over America what members of the other party want to do is just make this a referendum on people's disappointment, or anger, or apathy, with a good dose of amnesia thrown in. And if this is a referendum, we've got a lot of trouble here.… But the mid-term election is not a referendum, it's a choice."
But of course, it's both a referendum and a choice; between a political outsider and a man once branded the worst AG in America. If there has ever been a better example of someone who loves despotically wielding the power of government against industry, and by extension, against the people who have an interest in that industry, I'd like to know who it is.
In Tuesday night's debate, Blumenthal looked stiff, nervous and defensive; and with good reason. Compare their ideas on how jobs are "created":
Blumenthal: I know about how government can help preserve jobs. And I want programs that provide more capital for small businesses, better tax policies that will promote creation of jobs, stronger intervention by government to make sure that we use the 'Made in America' policies and 'Buy America' policies to keep jobs here rather than buying products that are manufactured overseas, as WWE has done.
McMahon: Government, government government. Government does not create jobs. It's very simple how you create jobs. An entrepreneur takes a risk. He or she believes that he creates goods or service that is sold for more than it costs to make it. If an entrepreneur believes he can do that, he creates a job.
Blumenthal's only real asset is that in all his years as AG, he has yet to really campaign; the people don't actually know him. His best hope is that no one was watching the debate. Still, given our state's proclivity for suicide by taxation, I'd call the race leaning ever-so-slightly Democrat, but eminently winnable for the GOP if McMahon plays her cards right down the stretch.