Linda McMahon's special interest group. Photo Al Pavangkanan of Flickr via Wikimedia Commons
Linda McMahon earned a score draw in her third debate, thanks to a partisan crowd that threw Chris Murphy off his game. As a wrestling fan though, I was ashamed that Linda's supporters booed Murphy for mentioning her terrible record of workplace related death as WWE CEO. That's not a cheap shot, but a very valid point that raises questions about her integrity and long term thinking abilities.
As we reported here on Thursday night, the second debate between Chris Murphy and Linda McMahon was an embarrassing affair for Linda, being booed and snickered at times by a predominantly Democrat leaning crowd.
However, the shoe was well and truly on the other foot in New London tonight, as the Republican troops were out en mass to cheer Linda on and boo Murphy whenever they felt he crossed a line, which only encouraged the outnumbered Murphy fans to try and pipe up too, though they were largely drowned out by the opposing team. The unruly crowd was more akin to one you'd find watching a WWE slobberknocker than you would normally associate with a political Q&A session. Not expecting such a rowdy audience, a clearly flustered Murphy, at one point quipped: "This is quite a crowd of supporters you have here, Mrs. McMahon." The insinuation being that Linda had shipped in a congregation of loyal acolytes to make as much noise as possible to throw him off his game, an accusation he wasn't shy about expressing to the local press after the debate was over:
"Linda McMahon brought a bunch of people here to try to shout me down off the stage because she's afraid of debating. She didn't fare too well in the first two debates, so her tactic tonight was to try and bring a bunch of people who would disrupt the debates."
It was probably nice for Linda to be in front of such a receptive arena for once, but the constant interruptions caused her closing statements to be cut off from live TV, as WTNH overran their time allotment and they were forced to go straight to the scheduled episode of Law & Order at 8 p.m. instead. An apology by WNTH was promptly issued via Twitter, as Linda's campaign team was understandably irate at such a screw up.
Credit must be given to WNTH's chief political correspondent Mark Davis for asking Linda her most pointed questions on the campaign trail so far, prompted by online polling about what the public wanted to know about the wealthy candidate. Though the partisan crowd didn't approve, she was put on the spot about how an inexperienced politician like herself would get her jobs plan considered in the U.S. Senate, how she proposed to deal with the rising inequality between the rich and the poor in the country, and how she personally spent the money from George W. Bush's tax cuts for corporations to create jobs in Connecticut. Unfortunately the wrestling empress had no clothes, largely avoiding these questions, skirting the issues and resorting to the comfort blanket of her safe talking points we all know off by heart now, until forced to give a straight answer and even then she often couldn't give specifics.
The lattermost question allowed Murphy to bring up how she put her own interests above her own
employees independent contractors, denying them health insurance and even alluding to the epidemic of death in her pro wrestling business, which Linda's supporters booed out of the building, viewing it as the cheapest of shots. This allowed her to totally sidestep that trickiest of subjects to attack Murphy instead for being in Congress for six years and still not getting a jobs plan heard there, a charge her opponent found palpably ridiculous in its political naïvety.
My gut response as a wrestling fan to those boos, was, to quote Linda's scolding session when accused of the petty crime of plagiarism by Murphy in her first debate, "Republican supporters, shame on you". It wasn't a heel tactic of the most desperate kind like a kick to the balls, it's a very valid point to raise to someone who is running wholly on their record as WWE CEO from 1997-2009. She was the company president when the then WWF decided to quietly stop random drug testing in 1996 due to money losses and being at a competitive disadvantage to their main rival WCW whose drug policy was a complete joke. By 1998 they were making money hand over fist and by 2001 they had bought WCW, but it wasn't until the third wrestler (the deaths of Brian Pillman and Russ Haas, came before Eddie Guerrero) died of a premature heart attack on her company's watch that she re-instituted regular drug testing and rather belatedly came up with WWE's comprehensive Wellness Policy in February 2006. Even then, the policy was holier than swiss cheese, until it took an even greater scandal in the Chris Benoit double murder suicide and a Congressional investigation to force them to close the testosterone replacement loophole that allowed many WWE performers to carry on juicing without punishment while being drug tested. Also, the booing was hypocritical when I saw no complaints about Republican Rob Simmons playing the dead wrestlers card against Linda so heavily in his losing primary race in 2010; it was fair game then.
Speaking of Benoit, readers at Cageside Seats regularly ask me why on earth has the McMahon family spent $65 million of their fortune for the long-shot of winning a Senate seat in such a solidly blue state. Earlier today, leading wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer was asked the very same question in the mailbag section of his Wrestling Observer Radio show and his answer proves that Murphy was quite right to bring up Linda's terrible record of workplace related death as WWE CEO:
"It's always good to have a Senator who's married to the boss, to the person who owns the company, for so many reasons. I mean if there is another situation like Benoit, you know, I mean it's like your get out of jail free card. There ain't gonna be any big Senate investigations if Linda McMahon's there. And just the prestige. I mean the whole thing with the McMahons, they go from being, you know, rich sleazy wrestling promoters to, you know, a family in the Senate and from a reputation standpoint that's a giant jump, it's a big jump."
Linda loves to talk about how her considerable wealth won't allow her to be paid off by special interest groups, but isn't WWE, the publicly traded entertainment conglomerate she owns, the perfect example of a special interest group that she would serve first and foremost before the best interests of her Connecticut citizens?
A full rundown of the debate can be found from my live tweets on the Cageside Seats Twitter account @cagesideseats or from the links on Tom Dudchik's website ctcapitolreport.com. Apart from two new topics of contention, largely it was more of the same policy wise, though less time was spent on personal attacks. Linda reiterated her belief that although Catholic hospitals are federally funded, they should not be required to dispense emergency contraception to rape victims, thinking it was an overreach of government, something Murphy strongly disagreed with, as rape victims can't choose which hospital they receive emergency care in. Linda also unsurprisingly defended corporate personhood, thinking that a corporation should be entitled to buy political ads due to the First Amendment right of free speech, while Murphy, equally as predictably, thought the concept was a disaster for the country:
"The idea some anonymous corporation can come in and try to anonymously purchase an election from out from under us corrupts our democracy."
I'm sure Chris Murphy also believes that it's almost as bad when some known corporation (WWE *cough cough*) tries to purchase an election out from under everybody's noses too!