Blumenthal For Senate? It's A Good Idea
Regular readers of this column know that consistency is not just the hobgoblin of little minds, it is also a sworn enemy of mine. I change course from time to time. And I make no apologies about it. So it is with a certain bemused self-consciousness that I write here of my delight that Richard Blumenthal has declared his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Christopher Dodd.
I've not always written nice things about Blumenthal.
Many years ago I jumped on the bandwagon of those of his critics who noticed his almost feral passion for publicity. You've heard it all before: What is one of the most dangerous places in the state? The distance between Blumenthal and a television camera. But my criticisms are, frankly, somewhat hypocritical: If I decry the publicity he seeks, it may simply be a sign that he is so much better at it than I am.
The only real downside to Blumenthal's decision to run for the Senate is that, if elected, he shall no longer serve as Connecticut's attorney general. He's been a good leader of the state's largest law firm. The office's record in consumer protection is impressive. And Blumenthal has assembled a solid team of exceptional lawyers. Finding a new leader able to provide as capable intellectual leadership in that office will be difficult.
I write all this and imagine tongue-clucking on Elm Street in Hartford, where the headquarters of the office is located. I've been adverse to the office so many times. And, in fact, I've sued Blumenthal in his personal capacity. How can I express support for his candidacy?
I first recall meeting Blumenthal at a hearing on whether Daniel Webb, a death-row inmate, should be permitted to attend funeral services for his mother. I filed a writ in federal court. After the state rejected a suggestion by the judge that Mr. Webb's mother be brought to the Northern Correctional Institution for a viewing, my request for injunctive relief was set for a hearing.
Into the courtroom walked the attorney general. The press was there, of course. Blumenthal exuded confidence. I needed to do something. As Judge Janet Bond Arterton took the bench, I asked for a moment to speak to Blumenthal.
Placing my hand over the microphone at the podium, I leaned close to him and said: "What are you doing here? You don't know this case. You probably read the brief in a limousine ride on the way down here and have appeared here for the sake of the press. Understand that I know you are a fraud."
He remained clam and impassive. There was no flicker of irritation in his eyes. I might as well have addressed Mount Rushmore. He thanked me and then went on to deliver an effective, and winning, argument on behalf of the people of the State of Connecticut.
I next saw Blumenthal in the United States Supreme Court. We were on opposite sides of a case involving another Connecticut prisoner. My client had been beaten by prison guards. I filed suit. The question before the Supreme Court was whether the client was required to exhaust administrative remedies before turning to the courts for relief.
Prior to argument, counsel linger together in an attorneys' lounge, and are given star treatment by a senior clerk of the Court. I was, frankly, embarrassed and more than a little ashamed. I'd behaved like an ass in the hearing before Judge Arterton. Would Blumenthal shun me? He was gracious, almost to a fault. Again, he delivered a fine, and, regrettably for my client, winning argument on behalf of the people of the State of Connecticut.
I respect Blumenthal, even if I do not love him. To love him would require that he share some ordinary human failing. He seems always to have been the man with an impeccable plan. He has been flawless in pursuit of his goals. That makes me uneasy, but the uneasiness may simply be envy. So good luck, I say, and godspeed in the race for the Senate. I cannot imagine a better candidate.
Reprinted courtesy of the Connecticut Law Tribune.