COLUMN

McMahon May Have A Plan, But No Good Answers

Every few years, it's time again to point out that Mark Davis is necessary.

The veteran WTNH newsman is part Sam Donaldson and part Ron Burgundy with a dash of sportscaster Jim Gray. He has a knack for barking out questions that make politicians uncomfortable. Some of you might worry that praise of this sort will swell Mark Davis' head. I promise you, that ship has sailed.

Last Monday night, at a New London debate, Davis asked several pointed questions. Actually, every question Mark asks sounds pointed, including "Where is the nearest Hooters?"

Like me, Davis had grown tired of the two previous debates in which many of candidate Linda McMahon's answers consisted of, "I have a plan. A good plan. My plan has six points. Chris Murphy does not have a plan. I have a plan. Planny plan plan."

Allow me to quote (once again) the legendary political strategist and WWE Hall of Fame inductee Michael Tyson: "Everybody has a plan, until they get hit."

Prospective governors and presidents can semi-plausibly have six-point plans. Senators cannot. First-term senators are essentially prestigious spear-carriers for their leadership. Earlier in the campaign, there was a huge stink about the way McMahon's plan was essentially pasted together from language lifted directly from other websites, with citations added only after charges of plagiarism had been leveled. Who cares a fig about the plan? Does anyone seriously think Mitch McConnell is salivating over the prospect of ramming Linda McMahon's plan through Congress?

Anyway, Davis pointed this out and observed — bless his heart — that McMahon would be "the lowest of the low" as a first-term senator. How was she going to get this all-important plan passed?

"Plan," McMahon responded. "Planetarium! Plantar's wart. Planna-ranna-ding-dong! Planplanplanplan."

Davis suggested that McMahon might have failed to comprehend his question, which was: How does a first-term senator — lower than the things that creepeth and crawleth upon the earth — get a plan passed?

McMahon replied that she would bring it to "the well of the Senate." And then it would go to committees. Oh!

This is a small point, but I don't think there is any well of the Senate. There's a well of the House. The point is, McMahon has read up on how a bill becomes a law. She has a plan to pass her plan.

By the time Davis asked another pointed question — about whether the McMahons have actually created jobs with the tax breaks they've gotten — the moderator, WTNH's Darren Kramer, had completely lost control of the New London crowd, so much so that the McMahon yahoo-partisans had taken to booing not just Murphy's answers but questions they did not like.

Memo to Kramer: When this kind of thing happens, you instruct each candidate to ask his or her supporters for silence and civility. That usually works. If it doesn't, you can always start docking time from the candidate whose supporters are disruptive. Memo to WTNH: In 2012, women seem to be doing better as moderators than men. I believe you have a staffer named Ann Nyberg. For that matter how in the world did you manage to stage a debate in which the moderator and two question-askers were all white dudes?

Anyway, McMahon reacted to Davis's question with a long, memorized answer that was not at all responsive but which did manage to mention the words "plan" and "six-point plan."

"Maybe I didn't make myself clear," said Davis. And he asked it again.

"Hundreds," McMahon said. (This was one day before "binders full" had established itself as a synonym for "a lot.") She said the McMahons also used their tax credits to invest in other job-producing companies.

Her supporters erupted in applause that seemed like a spasm of understanding that their candidate had produced an answer that was not preassembled for her — like the first time a child cuts his own meat.

Murphy then explained that in 1999 the McMahons got giant tax credits and simultaneously laid off workers.

McMahon responded by demanding to know why Murphy — I'm not making this up — had never "taken a plan down into the well of the House."

Oh Nov. 6! Please get here!

Colin McEnroe appears from 1 to 2 p.m. weekdays on WNPR-FM (90.5) and blogs at http://courantblogs.com/colin-mcenroe/. He can be reached at Colin@wnpr.org.

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