Hang down your head, Tom Foley. Hang down your head and cry.
Foley’s “Face the State” interview Sunday should have been held in a cab, with Dennis House in the back seat and Foley driving while spewing — a la Mel Gibson in “Conspiracy Theory” — a series of dimly sourced crypto-Masonic conspiracies.
Foley kicked off his tasting flight of charges against Dan Malloy with a series of disclaimers that sounded like the Terms of Service on a recalled playpen.
“I’m not a news organization; I don’t have a staff to look into these things …They
were told to me by more than one reliable source so it meets a journalistic standard
…and they’re things that are believed so they’re a problem whether they’re true or not…
It seems that there’s some substance to them but I can’t confirm that they’re true.”
That was the preamble.
First of all, that’s not the way the “journalistic standard” works. I’d be happy to flesh out the distinction if anyone cares.
And if there can be such a thing as political “best practices,” this approach is its opposite. If you’re going to attack your opponent in this way, you ordinarily do put some staff work into it. If you don’t have the money — hah! — you have volunteers do it.
Instead, Foley was — in three possible senses of the metaphor — just spitballing.
It seems, if nothing else, incredibly lazy. “I can’t be bothered to bring this information up to code, but, WTF, here it is. Somebody else deal with it.”
The sloppy disclaimers continued, making Foley seem more and more like a guy who had a couple of drinks at the country club bar and was running off at the mouth. He set up his claim that Malloy was compensated either during or before his 2010 campaign — Foley wasn’t sure — by his future commissioner Dan Esty, with the following run-on statement: “It’s believed, or I’ve heard, a lot of people believe.” Well that nails it down for me. If it didn’t for you, Foley then characterized his claim as “something I’ve heard and a lot of people believe.”
“Something I’ve Heard And A Lot Of People Believe” is a great title for an unpublished David Foster Wallace manuscript, but as a political charge, it’s the rhetorical equivalent of a dribble glass.
For his charge that Pullman and Comley has been designated — via dog whistle — as the go-to firm for municipalities seeking funds from the Bonding Commission, Foley added, “Whether that’s true or not, the mere mere perception that that’s the case” creates a situation in which a lot of towns do seek out that firm.
Now, before you all scream that I’m in the tank, let me say this. I think Malloy is truly assailable for not taking seriously government ethics. This, for me, has less to do with his personal conduct and more to do with his negligence about policing his own people and his hostility toward watchdog agencies and sunshine laws. It’s partly an ego thing. Malloy believes that he, personally, is all the Good Government we need right now. I look forward to someone with real credibility — John McKinney — calling him on it.
But not this guy. As I’ve written elsewhere, Foley was always an unlikely standard bearer for ethics. He was tightly wrapped into the truly corrupt Rowland administration and can never find his voice when there’s a chance to say any of that stuff was wrong. I’m less concerned with his old arrests — one of them connected to an ugly divorce — and more interested in the way he dragged all that unhappiness in front of Rowland’s feet and got himself appointed co-chair of a task for on divorce and custody. By most accounts his work on that task force was pretty good, but his presence as co-chair had nothing to do with qualifications and everything to do with the money-driven cronyism he now claims to deplore. I mean, he had as much business chairing that task force as he would, oh, I don’t know, playing a key role in the attempt to rebuild Iraq.
Something I’ve heard and a lot of people believe is that they still don’t have full electrical service over there.