Obama Impersonator Defends Comedy Routine

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June 20, 2011, 10:01 a.m.

“A day after ar­guing over who had more ex­per­i­ence chan­ging bed­pans,” Ex-Amb. to Ire­land Tom Fo­ley (R) and ‘06 can­did­ate/ex-Stam­ford May­or Dan Mal­loy (D) “found the per­fect ven­ue for their bick­er­ing gubernat­ori­al cam­paign” in a 10/7 ra­dio ap­pear­ance on WPLR. Both “touched briefly on the state budget crisis, but spent more time on who’s the big­ger li­ar.”

Want More On This Race? Check out the Hot­line Dash­board for a com­pre­hens­ive run­down of this race, in­clud­ing stor­ies, polls, ads, FEC num­bers, and more!

Mal­loy: “(Fo­ley) has a track re­cord of put­ting people out of jobs. Tom doesn’t un­der­stand every­day people.”

Fo­ley: “He’ll raise your taxes. I won’t” (Dix­on, Con­necti­c­ut Post, 10/7).

Mal­loy: “When you went away to make a lot of money, I went to New York to be a pro­sec­utor.”

Fo­ley: “We ought to re­tire him. Maybe he could go back to be­ing a pro­sec­utor” (Phan­euf, Con­necti­c­ut Mir­ror, 10/7).

Tom And Dan The Build­ers

“Key dif­fer­ences” between Fo­ley and Mal­loy “were on dis­play” at a “for­um hos­ted by build­ing con­tract­ors and de­velopers.” Both “agreed the state needs to be more busi­ness friendly,” and “also agreed the state” has to “do more to at­tract and re­tain busi­nesses.” But “in their an­swers to ques­tions about uni­ons, trans­port­a­tion pro­jects and how to op­er­ate” a state air­port, “they differed.”

Mal­loy, on pub­lic vs. private sec­tor uni­ons: “Does any­one here want your fire de­part­ment, or po­lice de­part­ment or your teach­ers to go on strike? Be­cause what we have, we have uni­ons, but we also have an ar­bit­ra­tion sys­tem de­signed to make sure that doesn’t hap­pen.”

Fo­ley: “(I don’t think) state gov­ern­ment has any role in telling cit­ies and towns what sort of work­ing re­la­tion­ship they ought to have with their em­ploy­ees or who they pur­chase ser­vices from. … (I fa­vor) re­view­ing all these man­dates on cit­ies and towns and help­ing them fig­ure out how to lower their costs” (Krechevsky, Wa­ter­bury Re­pub­lic­an-Amer­ic­an, 10/8).

Born To Run And Then Sub­sequently Help Elect Nearby GOP Gov­ernors

NJ Gov. Chris Christie (R) will be in CT later this month to stop for Fo­ley. Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) and LA Gov. Bobby Jin­dal (R) will also make ap­pear­ance in Oct. “A sched­ule for the cam­paign stops was not re­lease” but the Fo­ley camp “said all three of­fi­cials agreed to come to” CT “with­in the next” 2 weeks (Phan­euf, Con­necti­c­ut Mir­ror, 10/7).

A Real Chat­ter­ing Class Act

Hart­ford Cour­ant’s Green writes “I have a Dan Mal­loy prob­lem. No, it’s not some tor­tured, elit­ist ar­gu­ment I’m in with my­self about how I see the Demo­crat­ic gubernat­ori­al can­did­ate and his views. Aside from his cozy re­la­tion­ship with state em­ploy­ee uni­ons, I like what Mal­loy stands for. It’s a more vis­cer­al re­sponse after watch­ing him over the last six months.”

“As I watched Mal­loy and Fo­ley call each oth­er li­ar for 60 minutes the oth­er night, my prob­lem came in­to fo­cus. Mal­loy’s strident streak — which bor­ders on the nasty — was on statewide dis­play. … Here’s a les­son for Mal­loy: Voters don’t like an­noy­ing can­did­ates” (10/8).

Manchester Journ­al In­quirer’s Pow­ell re­acts to a 10/7 de­bate, writ­ing “Strip away the dem­agoguery and pet­ti­ness that drenched the first tele­vised de­bate of the ma­jor-party can­did­ates for gov­ernor Tues­day night. Strip away Demo­crat Dan Mal­loy’s at­tack­ing Re­pub­lic­an Tom Fo­ley for fail­ing to save a Geor­gia tex­tile mill, for be­ing rich, and for be­ing a busi­ness­man, a mem­ber of a class of people that in­cludes a lot of crooks — like the class of which Mal­loy him­self was a mem­ber un­til re­cently, Con­necti­c­ut may­ors. And strip away Fo­ley’s at­tack­ing Mal­loy for hav­ing been may­or of Stam­ford dur­ing a hor­rible re­ces­sion when jobs were lost and for hav­ing had to cope with a school sys­tem with a lot of poor kids. What was left?”

“Mal­loy was ar­tic­u­late, fo­cused, cun­ning, and in­dig­nant. Fo­ley, the sup­posedly ruth­less busi­ness ex­ec­ut­ive, was dif­fid­ent, im­pre­cise, un­prac­ticed, and un­der­stated. On present­a­tion alone Mal­loy stole the show. As for the can­did­ates’ an­swers, the event was less de­cis­ive” (10/7).

Pres­id­ent Obama’s em­brace of same-sex mar­riage last week un­der­scored an im­bal­ance in Amer­ic­an polit­ics so pro­found and en­dur­ing that it has al­most dis­ap­peared from view, like scenery too fa­mil­i­ar to no­tice. Yet that im­bal­ance ex­plains why leg­al­iz­a­tion of gay mar­riage, al­though still fiercely con­tested, seems in­ev­it­able, while pil­lars of Obama’s eco­nom­ic agenda such as health care re­form face a much more un­cer­tain fu­ture.

Throughout the na­tion’s his­tory, as his­tor­i­an Mi­chael Kazin of Geor­getown Uni­versity ar­gued in his per­cept­ive 2011 book, Amer­ic­an Dream­ers, the Left in Amer­ic­an polit­ics (whatever its name at the time) has pur­sued two broad goals, one so­cial and one eco­nom­ic. Lib­er­als would define their twin pri­or­it­ies as ex­pand­ing in­di­vidu­al rights to an ever-broad­en­ing circle of Amer­ic­ans and pro­mot­ing great­er eco­nom­ic op­por­tun­ity and equal­ity. Con­ser­vat­ives would de­scribe the Left’s goals as un­rav­el­ing tra­di­tion­al mor­al­ity and re­dis­trib­ut­ing in­come.

But wheth­er the agenda is cel­eb­rated or damned, the same long-term ver­dict ap­plies: The Left has suc­ceeded far more at re­shap­ing the cul­ture than re­mak­ing the struc­ture of the eco­nomy. Gen­er­a­tion after gen­er­a­tion, re­formers have se­cured great­er leg­al rights and so­cial ac­cept­ance for pre­vi­ously mar­gin­al­ized groups — a pro­cess that seems ir­re­voc­ably un­der way for gays and les­bi­ans. But the Left has suc­ceeded only in­ter­mit­tently and pro­vi­sion­ally at us­ing gov­ern­ment to chal­lenge the free mar­ket’s ex­cesses, as the con­tin­ued pub­lic skep­ti­cism about health care re­form and oth­er Obama pri­or­it­ies demon­strates. “In a polit­ic­al cul­ture which val­ued liberty above all,” as Kazin wrote, “the Left [has] had more dif­fi­culty ar­guing for the col­lect­ive good than for an ex­pan­sion of in­di­vidu­al rights.”

(RE­LATEDA Mil­lion­aire’s The­ory on Fix­ing the Eco­nomy)

The growth of both per­son­al liberty and the circle of tol­er­ance is a steady, if me­an­der­ing, cur­rent in Amer­ic­an his­tory. The ex­ten­sion of rights to new groups in­vari­ably has been res­isted, delayed, and won only after ex­ten­ded — some­times bloody — struggle. But al­most all the walls of res­ist­ance even­tu­ally have fallen. From the ab­ol­i­tion of slavery to wo­men’s right to vote, from the civil-rights laws of the 1960s to the leg­al and so­cial changes that provided het­ero­sexu­al couples un­pre­ced­en­ted sexu­al free­dom (on is­sues ran­ging from ac­cess to con­tra­cep­tion to abor­tion) on to ex­pan­ded work­place op­por­tun­it­ies for wo­men and minor­it­ies, the tra­ject­ory of Amer­ic­an life has moved ir­re­vers­ibly to­ward provid­ing more people great­er autonomy to pur­sue hap­pi­ness as they see fit.

Equal­ity for gays and les­bi­ans seems destined to join this roster. In Gal­lup sur­veys even in the late 1990s, a plur­al­ity of Amer­ic­ans said that gay re­la­tion­ships should be il­leg­al. Now, most na­tion­al polls show that slightly more Amer­ic­ans sup­port than op­pose same-sex mar­riage. The suc­cess of so many state-bal­lot meas­ures non­ethe­less ban­ning it hints that those num­bers may some­what over­state cur­rent at­ti­tudes, and Obama’s ad­vocacy may cost him as many votes as it wins him this year. But young people now sup­port re­cog­ni­tion for same-sex mar­riages so over­whelm­ingly that it seems more a ques­tion of when, than wheth­er, this bar­ri­er falls.

This un­stint­ing pro­cess of per­son­al lib­er­a­tion has pro­duced not only be­ne­fits but costs (such as more single-par­ent fam­il­ies). But while the dir­ec­tion of change some­times has stalled, it has nev­er fully re­versed; over time, the ar­row has al­ways moved to­ward great­er equal­ity for more people. To para­phrase Mar­tin Luth­er King Jr., the arc of Amer­ic­an at­ti­tudes to­ward per­son­al liberty may be long, but it al­ways bends to­ward in­clu­sion.

(MAP: Where Is Same-Sex Mar­riage Leg­al?)

The story di­verges on the Left’s oth­er great pri­or­ity: us­ing gov­ern­ment to soften the free mar­ket’s rough edges. On that front, the de­bate has ebbed and flowed in dis­tinct cycles. Only in brief win­dows have lib­er­als suc­ceeded in ex­pand­ing gov­ern­ment’s in­flu­ence over the mar­ket, wheth­er to po­lice cor­por­ate be­ha­vi­or or to try to ex­pand se­cur­ity and op­por­tun­ity: the Civil War years, the Pro­gress­ive era, the New Deal, and the Great So­ci­ety (which spilled in­to Richard Nix­on’s reg­u­lat­ory ad­vances). Pres­id­ent Obama’s first two years, capped by health care re­form’s pas­sage, pro­duced the broad­est ex­pan­sion of gov­ern­ment’s au­thor­ity in more than three dec­ades. For the long stretches in between, the Left has struggled to de­fend its break­throughs.

In 2012, Demo­crats seem clearly on the de­fens­ive again. In con­trast to the steady warm­ing to­ward gay mar­riage, Obama faces wintry skep­ti­cism about his health care law spe­cific­ally and fed­er­al act­iv­ism broadly — even amid hard times that have shattered faith in the private sec­tor. “The Re­pub­lic­ans are run­ning more on re­peal­ing Obama’s agenda than Obama is run­ning on the de­fense of [it],” notes Pete Wehner, a seni­or fel­low at the con­ser­vat­ive Eth­ics and Pub­lic Policy Cen­ter.

On both cul­tur­al and eco­nom­ic is­sues, the na­tion re­mains closely di­vided and du­bi­ous of ex­tremes. In their ar­dor to re­verse Obama’s ad­vances, Re­pub­lic­ans from Mitt Rom­ney on down risk over­reach­ing: Polls also show most Amer­ic­ans will­ing to raise taxes on the rich and re­luct­ant to re­trench gov­ern­ment pro­grams such as Medi­care as much as con­ser­vat­ives prefer. But the same in­clin­a­tion to­ward per­son­al liberty that nar­rowly tilts most so­cial de­bates like gay mar­riage to the left also usu­ally tilts ar­gu­ments about gov­ern­ment’s eco­nom­ic role slightly to the right. That’s one of many reas­ons why neither party is likely to win a de­cis­ive ad­vant­age this Novem­ber — or any­time soon after. 

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