Connecticut's Republicans have been down so long that they're entitled to construe almost anything as up. But they're making too much of Ryan Fazio's victory in last week's special election in the 36th Senate District, which includes Greenwich and parts of Stamford and New Canaan.
The district ordinarily leans strongly Republican and until 2018 had not elected a Democratic state senator in 88 years, but Fazio defeated the Democratic nominee, Alexis Gevanter, by only 2.5%. In its previous two elections the district had chosen a Democrat, Alexandra Kasser, because she spent a fortune on her campaigns and because of the district's disdain for President Donald Trump. Kasser resigned this year amid an ugly divorce.
Republican State Chairman Ben Proto claimed that Fazio's victory was remarkable because President Biden, a Democrat, carried the 36th last year by 25%. But Proto's cheerleading mainly emphasized how vulnerable Fazio may be in seeking re-election in 2022 if Trump remains national leader of the Republicans. Governor Lamont, a Democrat who presumably will lead his party's ticket again next year, is inoffensive and a Greenwich resident himself, and the Democrats are sure to try to tie Fazio to Trump.
With the Democrats holding the governor's office and big majorities in the General Assembly, one-party rule of state government is increasingly worrisome for its lack of oversight. In Washington, Biden seems unable to maintain coherence for more than a half hour a day, and the incompetence of his administration's withdrawal from Afghanistan has greatly reduced his approval rate. But to re-elect Fazio, increase their ranks in the legislature, and unseat Lamont, Connecticut's Republicans will need to develop issues that make people forget Trump.
There are many such issues, like the enduring weakness of Connecticut's economy, state government's subservience to government employee unions, and the failure of education, welfare, and urban policy. But, like most Democratic candidates, most Republican candidates in Connecticut strive to avoid the compelling issues, afraid to alienate the special interests to which the Democrats pander even though those interests will never support Republicans anyway.
That is, despite Fazio's victory, the Republicans seem content to be Connecticut's minority party.
* * *
Nearly everyone may want to forget the war in Afghanistan. But the lives and treasure lost cry out for accountability.
With the consent of Congress, President George W. Bush ordered the U.S. military to invade Afghanistan in 2001 in pursuit of 9/11 terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, who had been sheltered by Afghanistan's Taliban government. But it took 10 years to find bin Laden and by then he was in Pakistan. In the meantime the invasion turned to "nation building," though Afghanistan was not a nation at all but a bunch of primitive tribes.
Presidents Obama and Trump continued the Afghanistan project, repeatedly lying that progress was being made. Trump groused about "forever wars" and "----hole" countries but never got the United States out. President Biden botched the withdrawal, humiliating the country, but at least he is getting the country out – and despite its vastly superior numbers and equipment, the army of our puppet regime dissolved overnight.
Congress, including Connecticut's delegation, always approved Afghan war appropriations. A few members struck poses against the war but fewer tried ending it by cutting off appropriations, as that might have cut off their states' military procurement contracts.
And Americans tolerated "forever war," war never fought to be won, war without a military draft and war taxes.
Now we are calling our former puppet regime corrupt. But where did it get the money and materiel to be corrupt with? And who overlooked that corruption all this time?
Families who lost loved ones in Afghanistan are now doubly crushed, lamenting that their sacrifices were in vain. But this is mistaken.
All who served in the Armed Forces during the Afghanistan misadventure, as during the Vietnam misadventure, were defending the United States. If only the country had appreciated their service enough to prevent it from being squandered.
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.