Friday, December 19, 2003

Governor Rowland Implodes Under The Weight of His Own Hot Air

Shadenfreude is a bitch, let me tell you. And there is nothing worse that being hoisted by ones own petard in the media capitol of the world. I know this instinctively, as an occasional practitioner of that spooky art in this city. Well, sport sounds less pretentious than art, so let's call it that.

Never in my life have I seen a sitting politician receiving so many bitchslaps, in such rapid succession, within, ostensibly, a season of holiday warmth towards humankind, as are being issued toGovernor Rowland of Connecticut. Never (affects "outraged" tone).

If this beating took place in the ring, Judge Mills Lane would throw in a skimpy white towel and send Governor Rowie's black-and-blue broken body, spent from the bitchslaps, to the showers. Pronto! It's over, Johnny.

It's over to everyone but the Rowland's, which makes this little political shadenfreude particularly touching and cruel and fascinating in observation; it's like watching a couple of ants, slowly by slowly, reeling under the heat of a magnifying glass -- knowing what is going to happen next.

Equally sizzling a proposition, Connecticut's Governor, a thick-headed man, by refusing to just resign that damn job in the face of rising public anger, is not doing himself a service. This stubborn man is getting a long, protracted vivisection from everyone in the media biz. A serious vivisection, my little pomegranates, to which his wife is, sadly, a party.

Connecticut Governor John Rowland, and his wife, his "partner-in-crime" , so to speak, Patricia, are too good to be true and too sad to be true, simultaneously. There is a snarky blogger heaven where bloggers are 24/7 press access to the Rowland's, to trap the gaffes, like beetles in amber, ad infinitum; there is also a blogger hell, where the conscience of the blogger creeps up and asks the man -- can't you just leave them alone?

I can't.

First off, Governor John Rowland is ethically challenged. Now, I don't know whether this is because ethics are invisible little creatures (darn tham!), but even by the standards of politicians, Rowland is creepily devoid of ethics, of an ethical universe, oh, why mince it: devoid of even a single negative imperative imprinted upon his psyche, those chestnuts that make us fit for civilization (puffs out chest, gets all "moralizing," while simultaneously projecting a jocular and macho sense of final judgement).

For example, today's Times ties Rowland's "paving contractor" to his controversial partnership in a private deveolpment group (wink wink, he'll thake care of that thing for ya). What's up with that?

Since when do politicians engage in business ventures with ties to their precinct while still in office -- that's crazy talk: what was he doing, pulling a Mariah?

Rowland was absent with the sniffles in "political corruption" class on the day Ambassador Lauder taught everyone to make your scrilla after you leave office and have cemented your contacts, preferably in an emerging democracy, where the legal framework is dodgy at best.

And then there is that whole country house angle with the Rowlands. Not that I am against summer houses, per se, if you go in for that sort of thing (averted gaze), even though the majority of Americans are summer homeless, Governor ass. Summer house issues, air-conditioned dog houses thingies, (sigh) these issues just don't work out with the electorate, even in an electorate as wealthy as there are in Connecticut. Be afraid, Rowland, be very very afraid.

But of all the Christmastime fun surrounding this *dramedy* the Rowland's, produced, of course, by Asaad Kelada, was yesterday's press conference, where husband and First Lady, like Bonnie and Clyde, took on the press -- big mistake, baby pop -- in poetry -- a bigger fatter Greek mistake -- was a moment of great hysterical, and historical significance.

And I do not mean to say that they quoted Edmund Spenser, or Rilke or even Dr. Suess, people. No, the Rowland's, well, Patricia, to be frank, with moral support from "her man," read a "witty" attack on the media in the form of Twas the Night Before Christmas.

(The Corsair cringes at the thought)

The NY Times yesterday described the delivery as a "sing-song rebuke." It goes a little something like this:

"Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except me, the first spouse.

"I was waiting for Santa, that jolly old elf, to give him the list I had drawn up myself.

"For I had hung all the garland and tinseled the trees and festooned the house for the public to see.

"I'd sent all the cards to our friends far and near, and thanked all our staff for their hard work this year.

"I'd shopped and I wrapped all my gifts full of love for our five picky teens, the black Lab and the guv.

"I kept quiet and calm through December's dark storm, protecting my family from those who wish harm.

(Corsair cringes again)

"So now it was my turn to get Santa's ear, to tell him what I wanted for Christmas this year.

"When out on my yard there arose such a hubbub, I thought maybe [Hartford Courant reporter] Jon Lender had jumped in the hot tub."

--You see where this is going? No? I must continue? Very well:

"Now surely that man needs to go soak his head, but there on the lawn stood Santa instead.

"'Come in, dear Santa, and rest for a while. I've got cookies and milk,' I said with a smile.

"'I am late,' said Santa. 'My last stop took hours, all that coal I delivered down The Courant's tall towers.

"'They used to be good girls and boys,' Santa said. 'But the poison pen's power has gone to their head.

"'And I have the same problem at the media stations; they've just simply forgotten good human relations.

"'Their thirst and hunger for the day's biggest story has earned them black coal for their ill-gotten glory.'

"'Oh Santa,' I said, 'that is sad, I agree. They've acted like Grinches who have stolen our tree.'

"'They whipped themselves into a mad feeding frenzy. They've embarrassed our children and our Mama McKenzie [Jo McKenzie, a longtime aide]."

Here is how Alison Leigh Cowan and Marc Santora of the Times described the event:

"After the poem's tone became clear and the audience gasped, she glanced at the governor to assess his reaction. 'Go for it, hon,' he said. 'What can they do to us?'

"'They can't make it worse,' she replied, and continued reading."

The media can;t make it worse, honey? I just did. And, as I write this, many media organizations in the tri state area are doing worse ... much worse. But enough, even I have had enough of this shadenfreude; it's just too sad. Resign, Governor Rowland, resign.

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