‘By Hook Or By Crook’

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Thomas Hackett, a TPM reader and author of Slaphappy: Pride, Prejudice and Professional Wrestling (HarperCollins / Ecco, 2006), emails with his take on Linda McMahon:

I don’t carry a brief for the McMahons, Vince or Linda, and I don’t share their politics. But a few years ago, I wrote a book about professional wrestling — a book of cultural anthropology and reportage — and for what it’s worth, I found it difficult to deride the family or their company, WWE. Linda was the Hillary to Vince’s Bill, the more disciplined but less charismatic of the two.

Although the WWE has had problems with steroid abuse, it is hard to lay those troubles entirely at the McMahons’ feet. The fact is, professional wresting attracts unstable narcissists. Operating as independent contractors, many of these individuals will do almost anything to remain in the limelight.

Now it may be that the McMahon’s took advantage of that desperation, but any intelligent analysis of pro wrestling will find that the spectacle is as much a lampooning of the celebrity culture as it is a celebration. So not only does ridiculing the McMahons smack of rank snobbery, it also misses the point. They’re ten steps ahead of you, ridiculing a culture of stupidity no less effectively for their audience than Jon Stewart does for his.

And unlike many Republicans, they haven’t risen in the ranks by pandering to big-money interests or saying anything to appease the religious right. They’ve risen to prominence the old-fashioned way — earning it themselves, by hook or by crook.

Connecticut could do far worse than Linda McMahon. Joe Lieberman, for example.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.
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