I thought I was done with Linda McMahon for the time being, but she just couldn't resist taking a parting shot before taking some much needed time out of the media spotlight. Having become a national laughing stock after spending close to $100 million to be trounced twice at the polls and generally reviled in her home state of Connecticut thanks to her desperate tactics throughout the race, she will have her work cut out to restore her reputation. The fightback started earlier today by agreeing to a softball interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, who hold the McMahon family in high regard.
Like Mitt Romney, Linda somehow didn't see the writing on the wall, until the last second, when the polling results started rolling in against her:
"I was sitting by myself, actually. I had just taken a moment to go upstairs and get my thoughts together on what I was still hoping would be a victory speech. I was just sitting there, going over my speech; clearly you have a concession speech as well, but you're hoping that's not the one you use. I wasn't paying that much attention to the TV. This was about 40 minutes after the polls closed. Then I looked up and saw a check mark next to Chris Murphy's name on ABC. I barely caught it out of the corner of my eye. I just thought, "Wow." I was stunned for a moment. I sat there for a few minutes on my own, reflecting on what the race had been. I thought about the thousands of people who not only had touched me but whom I had touched as well. All the notes, "Thank you for running. Thank you for showing me that it's worth putting everything on the line," and things like that."
I hope one of the lessons learnt is to take polling agencies seriously and not believe all the guff from her hangers on that the bad numbers were all a liberal/Democrat conspiracy to do her in.
The theme of touching the hearts of the people she met was a common one, reminiscent of the WWE spin that they're in the business of putting smiles on people's faces whenever controversy occurs. There were anecdotes about how flattered she was to have a special following among 12-14 year old girls, being a role model in their eyes, and how a WWE employee without electricity in his home due to the hurricane had taken his family to Linda's election party, and how she had told his nine year old daughter to "just remember to do things from your heart as well as your head" in a touching moment between the two.
However, it wasn't all Mrs. Nice Grandmother. She made sure to subtly flip the bird at the Connecticut media for their portrayal of her as a bored, frustrated millionairess in need of a new hobby:
"The way it’s framed is that I’m trying to buy the election for my own personal gain. What would be my personal gain? I’m not looking for a new career. I’ve had a wonderful career. I was hoping to bring a different voice and perspective and use my skills that have been honed as a CEO in bringing people together. I’ve had a little bit of fame and fortune. I’ve been in the public eye. I wasn’t looking for a hobby. If I were looking for a hobby, it wouldn’t be the United States Senate. That’s one of the toughest jobs I’d probably ever do."
Maybe you can suspend your disbelief to imagine that Linda McMahon was going into politics for the right reasons, but husband Vince clearly wasn't pumping in so much of his personal fortune if he didn't believe it would pay off for his company, WWE, in the long run. She's still insulting the public's attention by trying to pretend there is no personal benefit from being a U.S. Senator when you're the owner of a local media conglomerate.
She also tried to argue that her personal attacks against Chris Murphy were fair game, while his were below the belt:
"We did what I consider to be contrast ads, to show what his voting record was. We did bring out something about him that he’d gotten political favors on a special loan. They were things I thought the voters should know. We never put up evil-looking pictures of him or play dark and dreary music. They actually photoshopped me a couple of times, making my jaw longer, and making me look like a really evil person."
Regardless of the lack of sinister airbrushing and sound effects, McMahon still tried to paint her opponent as a lazy, good for nothing, money-grubbing, corrupt heel... and to a degree succeeded in doing so. It's just that in the end she became the bigger villain of the piece.
Much of the blame for that has to go to Linda's campaign manager Corry Bliss, a reckless spin doctor who specializes in the dark political arts. Chris Shays, who felt those mafia style hit job skills firsthand in losing the Republican primary to McMahon this summer, relished the chance to say I told you so, that she was virtually un-electable:
"The people advising her were thrilled to take her money, but they knew this was a long shot. Corry Bliss, who ran her campaign, basically left Vermont in shambles, and he’s leaving Connecticut in shambles. But he’s got more money. He made more money. Pat Sullivan [a lobbyist and McMahon adviser] basically has made a pile of money at the expense of his fellow Republicans. And it’s just a shame. He’s a talented guy. He stood in the way of Republicans gaining a Senate seat in 2010 and 2012."
In response, Bliss showed his true colours, ferociously biting back in a manner that might even make his former paymaster blush (Linda not Vince, just to make that clear, who has been known to also lash out in such a fashion):
"Congressman Shays is a classless, bitter, sore loser who should do the people of Connecticut a favor and keep his mouth shut and move back to Maryland. However, I would like to offer a portion of my salary to be used to pay for the psychiatric care that Congressman Shays desperately needs. And lastly, I know that Congressman Shays has dreams of running for governor, and I will keep my opposition research book under my pillow with the hopes of being able to use it, pro bono, if he launches another failed campaign."
That goes against Linda's narrative of an unjustly wronged babyface, as we all know that someone with true virtues wouldn't share such nasty company. The old saying if you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas, springs to mind.
Bliss was also the brain surgeon that likely came up with the McMahon campaign team's idea of shadily attempting to politicise a natural disaster in Hurricane Sandy, until the more principled members of the local Republican party forced him to stop, as reported by Neil Vigdor on the Hearst Connecticut Media Group's political blog:
"Multiple GOP sources revealed to Hearst Newspapers that McMahon’s campaign, in an Election Day hail Mary attempt, printed up fliers insinuating that Murphy was to blame for extended power outages post-Hurricane Sandy because he received campaign contributions from the utility industry.
The hope was that party rank-and-filers would hand out the leaflets at polling places along Connecticut’s hard-hit Gold Coast, Hearst has learned.
Republicans we spoke to repudiated the strategy and refused to hand out the fliers, however."
Obviously, this would have backfired even more than the misleading attempts to link her to Barack Obama, making her a Cruella de Vil type caricature willing to exploit the misfortune of others for her own political greed. If you ever do run for political office again Linda, then please do yourself a favour and get a campaign manager with at least some morals. Maybe we wouldn't have to bash you as much then!