The knives are out for Linda McMahon in Connecticut.
This former chief executive officer of the $1.2-billion entertainment juggernaut, World Wrestling Entertainment, has captured the delegate nomination as the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Connecticut. You can say the same about McMahon that Bloomberg Businessweek says about her business: She "operates under a cloud of elite disdain." Amidst the howls of outrage from both the right and left sides of the political and media establishments, McMahon is poised for an upset in the August voter portion of a two-part primary. Elite media and politicians despise her, describing her as an "outsider" while decrying the source of her wealth and her Palin-esque view of politics (government spending is out of control, politicians are living large off the taxpayers, Washington is a swamp, etc.).
But the wrestling millionaire is in the midst of executing the kind of move increasingly seen in this, the year ordinary Americans began pushing back: a Triple-Damn Stinger Splash to the political and media elites. The 61-year-old blonde with the nerves of steel is taking her opponents head-on, splashing herself across their bodies as they stand in slack-jawed awe at the prospect of a real taxpayer taking on media-anointed politicians.
She has come from nowhere in a campaign that media observers called "quixotic at best" to crush the professional politicians who are helping Washington dismantle the United States. In doing so, she has introduced them to the Stinger Splash, in which she ran at them as they stood smugly in the corner, having decided which of the career Republican politicians would face a Democratic opponent for the seat being vacated by Democratic Senator Chris Dodd in November. No outsiders, no real people need apply. Political business as usual. Game over. Problem was, Linda McMahon was angry, with an anger that had been building for years as taxes soared, services deteriorated, and the economy stumbled under the weight of a bloated bureaucracy and self-serving political class."It was just one thing after another, after the other," she said about the job-killing insanity of government. In Washington, in the Connecticut capital of Hartford, professional politicians gobbled up huge chunks of private-sector wealth as the mainstream media cheered them on.
And so McMahon took her considerable fortune, developed through marketplace savvy, and charged. In a move pulled from her wrestling empire, she splashed her "whole body stomach-first" across the politicos. Her campaign assault has been the equivalent of a wrestling move, the Stinger Splash...and Connecticut Republican delegates delivered their endorsement, defying party leaders in the first of a two-part primary process.
And on top of the Stinger Splash came the Triple-Damn. Damn woman. Damn outsider. Damn taxpayer. Hence the Triple-Damn Stinger Splash. That's not an official World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) move; rather, it is a move patented by Sarah Palin, and then refined by Nikki Haley in the governor's race in South Carolina, Sharron Angle going for the seat of Obama consigliore Sen. Harry Reid in Nevada, and hundreds of thousands of Tea Party participants across the United States. And now enhanced by McMahon.
They are outsiders all; people who understand what real life -- as opposed to political life -- is all about. They are disgusted by the war on American values and traditions being waged by the political, media and academic elites led by President Obama and his Democratic Congress on the one hand, and the New York-Washington media on the other. This "educated class," as David Brooks of the New York Times described those who know they know best for the rest of us, is creating a United States of out-of-control debt, expanding government, and declining opportunity.And so McMahon the taxpayer, the entrepreneur, looked up one day and saw a future shaped by Harvard and Washington and Upper Manhattan and decided she'd had enough. She had graduated from East Carolina University -- no lecture halls jammed with trust fund babies. She had lived a real life. And they were stealing a lifetime of hard work. Reality fuels her campaign, not Muffy and Buffy and the Hamptons Maos. The result is summed up in the plaintive headline from the Hartford Courant, as establishment and mainstream a daily newspaper as they come: "Linda McMahon, the outsider, beats Rob Simmons, the former congressman."
And so she charges toward the August primary, leaving behind stunned politicians and media insiders. They had chosen an inside-the-beltway politician, a Yale instructor, a tax-and-spend Republican -- not a successful and independent business executive. But he was slammed by an energized McMahon against the turnbuckle at the side of the state primary ring.
And then he did what elite politicians usually do in the age of Obama: broke his promise to abide by the convention choice and back McMahon if she won. With the support of career politicians and mainstream media, he vowed to fight on to save the state, as one daily newspaper editor urged, from the "truly humiliating prospect of Sen. Linda McMahon."Humiliating? Sure, if humiliation is savvy business leadership and lack of respect for mainstream media and beltway Washington. These kind of views are what prompted columnist John Podhoretz, who lives on the conservative side of the elite continuum (an Upper West Side address), to include McMahon in his list of candidates who may "prove to be a little off -- ideologically, intellectually or personally" in this, "the Year of the Oddball." What weird women, he chuckled.
At the same time, Connecticut media continue to scream. Hearst newspapers have intensified their attacks, taking time out from their Helen Thomas print apology tour (hey, don't you know that anti-Semitism is cool in Obama Washington?) to make sure state voters know that McMahon's fortune is "built on sleaze." Wrestling lacks "family values," editors sniffed. "Disgusting, in fact."
Disgusting? Have they looked at the plots of the operas gobbling taxpayer dollars through government funding of arts and public broadcasting at the urging of mainstream media? Rape, torture, drugs, and drunkenness. Washington arts funding makes WWE look like a Disney production from the fifties. Where are the screams about beltway Washington built on sleaze? The final primary is around the corner in August, and McMahon is building toward yet another major move borrowed from the wrestling ring: the Quadruple-Damn Stinger Splash.
Damn woman. Damn outsider. Damn taxpayer.
And soon: Damn winner.
Stuart Schwartz, a former retail and media executive, is on the faculty at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.