Friday, August 13, 2010

Unless He Focuses on Linda McMahon’s WWE Death Mill, Blumenthal Can’t Win By Attacking Wrestling

Democratic Party kitsch kings richly deserve the hoist on their own petard delivered by The Daily Caller’s call-up of 2008 clips that show the party’s top two presidential candidates of that year, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, pandering on World Wrestling Entertainment’s flagship Monday night cable show, Raw.

Believe me when I say there is more – a lot more – where this comes from. The Linda McMahon for Senate campaign hasn’t even rolled out last December’s footage of Obama giving the presidential imprimatur to WWE’s Tribute to the Troops holiday special on NBC.

There is one issue relative to McMahon’s stewardship of pro wrestling, and only one, that will truly stick. That is the unbelievable toll of death, enabled by lax occupational health and safety standards, in the industry in which she made the hundreds of millions of dollars now underwriting her utterly unqualified bid for high elective office.

For the strategists behind Richard Blumenthal, McMahon’s Democratic opponent in the Senate race, there are two problems. The first is the narrow range of vision of politicians, who don’t like to think; they prefer, instead, to guess at how everyone else feels. As I’ve been pointing out for months, McMahon bashers have a fuzzy and inaccurate vision of the WWE association as an electoral negative: that wrestling is icky, rather than popular; that degradation of women is a turnoff, rather than a shrug-inducing satire; that bad behavior is finger-wagging material, rather than guilty pleasure.

The other problem is that the enabling of the McMahon family’s rise from the trailer park to the Forbes 400 has been bipartisan. Or, maybe it would be more fair to say, unipartisan – a product packaged and sold by the Party of Money. The hands of Democrats, as well as Republicans, are rancid from the odor of corpses in wrestling (21 under the age of 50 in 2007 alone; dozens, scores, or by some counts hundreds more over the generation of WWE’s global expansion).

After all, it was a Democratic Congressional committee chair, Henry Waxman, who, after the June 2007 double murder/suicide of WWE star Chris Benoit, failed to follow up on public hearings that would have blown the lid on such matters as the total absence of steroid-testing in the company from 1996 to 2006, on the loophole-laden drug regime ever since, and on the untreated injuries and serial concussions that turn its glory-hungry “independent contractors” into zombies for TV ratings, pay-per-view subscriptions, and kiddie merchandise.

This year it is another Democratic Congressional camera hog, Anthony Weiner of the House Judiciary Committee, who scores points embarrassing the National Football League for its poor concussion management program yet won’t say a peep about how one of the architects of the NFL’s policy gives WWE political cover as its “medical director.”

It’s a Democrat – indeed, President Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel – whose brother worked with the McMahons and had helped shake them down for contributions to Emanuel’s campaigns for his House of Representatives seat from Illinois.

Inside Connecticut, Democrats like the then mayor of Stamford (and current candidate for governor), Dan Malloy, endorsed Linda McMahon’s January 2009 appointment to the state Board of Education. (McMahon lied about her academic credentials before she got the job, and soon abandoned that token pit stop of public service to devote full time to her self-funded Senate campaign.)

Perhaps the ultimate two-faced bipartisan money grubber, of course, is Connecticut’s other senator, Joe Lieberman. He was on the advisory board of the Parents Television Council, which paid millions to WWE to settle a defamation suit. But letting bygones be bygones, Linda McMahon donated to Lieberman’s 2006 reelection campaign, and now Lieberman hasn’t ruled out backing McMahon against Blumenthal.

The Blumenthal brain trust, lacking any better ideas, apparently thinks it can win with a shopping list of Linda’s negatives. The thing about shopping lists is that people like supermarkets. Blumenthal will lose the election unless he finds the voice for directing voters to the real salmonella poisoning of the product in the McMahons’ cheap entertainment superstore.

Meanwhile ... Another day, another young death (see previous post).


Irv Muchnick