Maybe it’s because she wanted to be a French teacher, and schadenfreude is a German word. Or maybe it’s because she doesn’t have enough experience in politics, or otherwise lacks the basic maturity, to know that it is bad form to derive pleasure from the misfortunes of others. World Wrestling Entertainment, where Linda McMahon made her centimillions, is a zero-sum world of cartoon humiliation, and concepts like restraint, discretion, and modesty are foreign objects there.
Whatever the explanation, the McMahon Senate campaign in Connecticut today managed to pull off an unlikely daily double. She landed a haymaker on presumptive Democratic candidate Richard Blumenthal, and it could prove to be a fatal one. At the same time, she stepped on her own story.
By now all of you are aware that The New York Times, tipped by McMahon, exposed Blumenthal on the front page for having lied or misled about his military record – on occasion artfully allowing audiences to believe that his stateside Marine Corp Reserves service during the Vietnam War was actually service in Vietnam.
You probably also know that the McMahon campaign bragged on its website about being the source of the Times report. When others observed that such bragging was tasteless and unsenatorial, McMahon then pulled the item.
From 3,000 miles away, I have no better guess than anyone else as to how the Blumenthal bombshell will play out. The timing of the story was passing strange: why would McMahon leak it so early in the campaign, before the party nominations were even decided? The explanation, according to my sources, is that the McMahon camp’s hand was forced. The rumors of the Times hit, which was months in the making, led to fear that the campaign of Rob Simmons, McMahon’s main Republican opponent, would plant it elsewhere first and get credit for it.
I’m no expert on the cesspool that is Connecticut politics. When it comes to the ways and means of Senator Schadenfreude, however, I have an advanced degree – which is one more than Linda McMahon claims in the latest airbrushed version of her own c.v.
Doing and saying much more than necessary is the McMahon family modus operandi, one that Linda now submits for the approval of the electorate.