Did She Just Say What I Think She Just Said?

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The debate seemed to be moving along largely without incident. Each of the five candidates for the Democratic nomination for US Senate articulated their positions quite well—US Rep. Chris Murphy, former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, state Rep. William Tong, East Hartford resident Matthew Oakes and um, Greenwich author, attorney and serial suer Lee Whitnum.

It didn’t take that long before Whitnum went on one of her anti-Israel rants. Opposing US aid to Israel is a legitimate policy position (although The Shad couldn’t disagree more). What is not legitimate is what happened at the end of the debate. Whitnum, objecting to Murphy’s support of Israel, called Murphy a pro-Israeli “whore.” She then called Tong “ignorant.”

I was sitting about 25 feet from the debate stage, behind the camera, taking notes for my Friday morning analysis on NBC-Connecticut with Brad Drazen and Yvonne Nava. There was a collective “did she just say that?” response on the set. Anytime you can shock veteran journalists and TV pros Gerry Brooks and the legendary Tom Monahan, you’ve really accomplished something.

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The thing is, while I didn’t expect Whitnum to go as far as she did, I wasn’t all that surprised that she once again showed herself to be half a whack job. I’ve written about her before. In any event, she overshadowed any discussion of the issues. She should issue an apology immediately.

As the far as the rest of the debate, it was mostly cordial but one could see how things are starting to develop going forward. Murphy is framing himself as the candidate not afraid to stand up to anyone in Washington (the answer to his first question started with, “I disagree with the president…” and as the candidate who is enacting change not just talking about it.

Bysiewicz sees herself as the true protector of the middle class and is quick to say Murphy is really just another pawn of Wall Street. Tong relies on his inspirational personal story—his parents came from nothing, ran a Chinese restaurant in Wethersfield, saved every penny and put Tong through college and law school.

The issues that didn’t involve name calling included: the timetable for bring troops home; energy, gasoline prices and Keystone pipeline; jobs; mortgage trouble; the Supreme Court’s handling of Obamacare and the consequences of it potentially being struck down and others.

Unfortunately, Whitnum dragged the political discourse into the gutter.