Elections have consequences, I get that.
But do we really have elections so that familial legacies can be seeded?
Rumors swirl that Connecticut United States Senator Richard Blumenthal is busily at work advancing the cause of his son, Matthew, to be appointed the next United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut. Cynics mutter that he’s doing so in order for Blumenthal the Younger to build a resume for a run at the Senate seat the Elder Blumenthal will vacate in 2028, when he is 78 years old. (The Elder Blumenthal no doubt assumes the seat he currently occupies is his for the asking in 2022.)
There is an aura of inevitability about the Elder Blumenthal. He’s been a fixture in Connecticut forever, or so it seems.
He was first appointed United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut in 1977, a position he occupied until 1981. He was a mere 31 years old at the time of his appointment, with a trifling resume. He went from there to the state House of Representatives and then to the State Senate, attending every public event he could find, shaking every hand he could reach, for sixteen years. Then on to serve five years as state Attorney General. During this period, wits observed that one of the most dangerous places in the state was the space between Blumenthal and a television camera.
But cynics be damned. The Elder Blumenthal was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010. In 2022, he will run for his third, and presumably final, term. He’s maxed out as a Senator; he lacks the warmth for a serious run at national elective office.
But never mind that. The future beckons.
Enter Blumenthal the Younger.
Matthew is, like his father, a politician. Like his father, he attended Harvard College and the Yale Law School. Matthew has also, like his father, served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve, although, unlike his father, he has not claimed to be a Vietnam War veteran, but he does claim to have served a tour of duty in Afghanistan. At 36, Matthew has not exactly set the legal world on fire, but he did win a seat in the Connecticut General Assembly in 2018. He’s now employed at the personal injury law firm of Koskoff, Koskoff and Bieder, in Bridgeport, where, among his credits, is a supporting role in the firm’s litigation against Infowars host and founder Alex Jones for claims arising from Sandy Hook school shootings in 2012.
It appears that Matthew has acquired his father’s taste for politics, and, presumably, he has inherited some of the family’s wealth as well. With familial wealth, inherited name recognition, and his father’s Rolodex, the future looks bright. What’s needed in a springboard more auspicious than the state House and a supporting role in a personal injury law firm.
So, why not United States Attorney?
Lack of experience for one thing. Being the state’s top federal prosecutor is a part politics, but larger part judgment. I’m not sure Blumenthal the Elder had the judgment necessary at 31; I doubt it, somehow. But what, other than a father with the dependability of a metronome, at least insofar as basic political skills, qualifies this young man to lead the state’s federal prosecutors? Chauncey Gardner might be there, but is being there in and of itself enough?
Career prosecutors are a quirky bunch. Most of them think they are serving the people, doing justice. Maybe they are. But they are also civil servants who believe that merit matters. Passing a political plum from father to son might play in some states, but Connecticut? (At least Dodd father and son were characters; the Blumenthal du0 seems caricature, by contrast.)
I am hoping the rumors about efforts to place Matthew in the top prosecutorial seat are just that – rumors. In an era in which justice of all sorts seems to matter, nepotism of this sort simply reeks. Has Blumenthal the Elder come to believe he is entitled to the high regard he enjoys, that it is a gift he can bequeath to his son to keep alive the family name? I hope not.