One of the hardest things about being married to a woman far smarter than I am is that I never really get to enjoy a movie: We'll be sitting there watching the plot unfold. About the time I sense that there is an issue to resolve, my wife has already figured it out and solved it. It happened last night, watching Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer. I bear the burden of her genius with an admiration tinged with a smattering of intimidation.
So I take seriously her impressions of the Connecticut Senate race pitting Richard Blumenthal against Linda McMahon. Months ago, it seemed like a no brainer: Blumenthal may well be a media-loving pretty boy, but he has been a good consumers' attorney general. Let's send him to the Senate, I thought. He knows his way around the political process. Linda McMahon, by contrast, seemed like a caricature: another wealthy entrepreneur riding the outsider's wave of rage and discontent, Sarah Palin with a bank account. I was not prepared to send McMahon from the executive suite of the World Wrestling Entertainment to the Senate. Somehow the prospects of Hulk Hogan's mommy sitting in the Senate did not sit well with me.
But that was before Blumenthal was shown to be a liar about his Vietnam war record. Why would a man with a sterling resume feel the need to lie? If ever a man dripped credentials, it is he. His efforts to spin the catastrophe following revelation of his lies hardly inspired confidence. But the crisis passed, and I was prepared if not to forgive, then at least to try to forget the prospect of Fox Hole Dick's talking to his imaginary friends in the red glare of his hallucinogenic rockets.
Then came the recent revelation that Blumenthal has once again played stranger to the simple imperatives of truth-telling: He boasts of never having received PAC money. Yet federal records reflect he's taken almost $500,000 from PACs since making his claim to be purer than the driven snow. This from a man independently wealthy. Why the almost compulsive need to lie and to posture as something better than he is?
My wife sent me a press report about Blumenthal's latest whoppers. I read it and found myself doing the unthinkable: It is November. I enter a polling booth and read the ballots. I see the name Richard Blumethal for U.S. Senate, and I pass over it. With reluctance, I pull the lever for Linda McMahon. As I pull the lever I am aware I am not so much voting for her as I am against a man of near sociopathic arrogance.
I told my wife this. She was, of course, shocked. She is a good lefty. I, on the other hand, rarely vote. The candidates all seem to look alike to me, a bunch of lying opportunists who serve interests largely foreign to me. I asked her why Blumenthal's lies bug me so much; it's not as though I expected to find virtue in the brothel. Oddly, revulsion over repeated lies could push from a no-show to voter in November.
My moral compass reports she too is bothered by his lies: It is because in contrasts so vividly with his self-righteousness, she told me.
But when I told her some inchoate notion of voting for McMahon was taking shape, she rebuked me. "She's awful," she told me. "But what of Blumethal?," I asked. "He's merely yellow," she said. As always when she says things I don't want to hear, I did not then, and do not now, fully understand her. She is wise, I well you. (I concede her decision to accept my proposal was a lapse in otherwise exemplary judgment.)
Pollsters, don't bother calling our home. We have one reluctant vote for Blumenthal, and one undecided drifting toward McMahon out of a sense of almost visceral disgust. Just now, I suspect the Dicker's a winner. My wife sees that. But come Labor Day who knows what new whoppers will surface?