Maureen Callahan’s story in today’s New York Post on the Linda McMahon phenomenon zeroes in on the bipartisan political decay at its core. See “Connecticut is ready to rumble,” http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/connecticut_is_ready_to_rumble_XC9xevF2Rr2t4HXkGThSiK/2.
During McMahon’s Republican primary run, some in the party establishment expressed alarm at her history of campaign contributions to Democrats as well as Republicans. But now that McMahon has won the primary, this point is much more important than it was then, for it illuminates how her wealth has neutralized forces that, if they had done their jobs, would have put a natural brake on her rise to power.
McMahon is not “the outsider she proclaims to be,” Callahan points out:
Along with her husband, she has donated to candidates of both parties, but their biggest donation, for $15,000, was to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Such donations, she says, were born “primarily of relationships you have with — for instance, part of my Democratic donations were to [White House Chief of Staff] Rahm Emanuel, whose brother Ari is the president of William Morris Endeavor Agency in California. He has represented the WWE for years and years and years. So Ari would call and say, ‘My brother’s running for office. Would you mind making a contribution?’ Fine. Or, ‘My brother’s going to be in town, would you sit down with him?’ So it was a personal, business relationship there.”
In an equally astute observation, Chris Nowinski, the ex-wrestler whose Sports Legacy Institute is studying the brain damage sustained by dead wrestlers and other athletes, tells the Post, “The relationships they built with Congress saved them.”
These relationships are known as lobbying and it is a theme the politicos should be hammering. Alas, they appear to be too busy trying to figure out whether Jon Stewart looks amused or pissed while he plays clips of McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment doing world wrestling entertainment.
It is five months since Brian Lockhart of the Hearst newspapers looked into the abortive Waxman Committee investigation of WWE in 2007, and settled for the conclusion that its unsatisfying denouement was a mystery. Like everything about Linda McMahon and her husband Vince – from their wrestling productions, to their public stock offering legerdemain, to their new reach for open political power – this is more a brazenly flouted fact than a mystery.
Speaking of Chris Nowinski, he is a central figure in a critical and so far unreported scenario that could have a huge impact on the McMahon-Richard Blumenthal Senate race. More about that from here shortly.