What to re­mem­ber of La­mont’s first day in of­fice

New Haven Register (Sunday) (New Haven, CT) - - OPINION - Bil­lion recre­ational. dum Capi­to­lio, that’s Canus Ken Dixon, po­lit­i­cal ed­i­tor and colum­nist, can be reached at 203-842-2547 or at [email protected]­post.com. Visit him at twit­ter.com/KenDixonCT and on Face­book at kendixonct.hearst.

OK, so Ned La­mont’s JFK im­pres­sion was scary. That might not be a bad sign.

“Ask not what your state can do for you...” he faked in an un­ac­cept­able Bay State ac­cent, lean­ing down into the mi­cro­phone.

The dude went to Har­vard and that’s as good as we can get? “... Ask what you can do for your state. ...”

La­mont’s 23-minute State of the State Ad­dress was much more fun and less cringe-in­duc­ing when he fo­cused on pol­icy, like paid fam­ily leave, which prompted the newly shrunken Repub­li­can mi­nori­ties to scowl and sit on their hands. Now en­ter­tain­ment.

La­mont’s way of say­ing “Hi ev­ery­body” re­minds me so much of Mickey Mouse, that I al­most hal­lu­ci­nated white gloves on his hands. Maybe those dig­its will ac­tu­ally man­i­fest them­selves when Con­necti­cut starts sell­ing recre­ational (I love that word ... What a mar­ket­ing con­cept!) cannabis, as La­mont plans.

Ned’s so lik­able, I want to barf. It’s scary and I’m wor­ried that the wolves in the Capi­tol — unions, Demo­cratic law­mak­ers, de­part­ment heads, lob­by­ists — are go­ing to scurry away from his skele­tal re­mains and a few tufts of fur in a Capi­tol hall­way some night in late May.

For­tu­nately there were a cou­ple of mo­ments when I saw some­one less lik­able but more re­spectable in­side that 65-year-old Yup­pie ex­te­rior, maybe a lit­tle Dan Mal­loy, in the oc­ca­sional flash of La­mont’s se­ri­ous­ness. Mal­loy, the ul­ti­mate pol­icy wonk, was smart enough for ev­ery­one in any given room, and with­out nat­u­ral al­lies in the Gen­eral Assem­bly, com­ing from the mu­nic­i­pal realm of 14 years as Stam­ford mayor, his ten­ure be­came lonely.

La­mont, with only mod­est lo­cal Green­wich gov­ern­ment ser­vice way back in his past, will be learn­ing on the job. He prom­ises to lis­ten to ev­ery­body, as if there were enough hours in the day. But that fa­cial ex­pres­sion, you know if he can pull that out once in a while sit­ting at a ta­ble with the

maybe he’ll suc­ceed. Maybe he can bark at law­mak­ers who want to spend too much. Maybe the AFL-CIO union en­dorse­ment didn’t mean he was in their back pocket.

Af­ter all, he’s the guy who con­vinced Con­necti­cut Democrats in 2006 that Chicken Hawk Joe Lieber­man did not be­long in the U.S. Se­nate any­more. But in 2018, what does it mean to talk truth to power?

What can he pos­si­bly ac­com­plish in this up­com­ing, no-win four-year term? The un­der­funded pen­sions have a $100

li­a­bil­ity. The bud­get that starts July 1 has a $1.7 bil­lion deficit. The gover­nor has un­til Feb. 20 to of­fer a bud­get pro­posal to the wolves, to the law­mak­ers who know the line items by heart.

And if La­mont hasn’t promised the stars to ev­ery­one, there’s re­ally only a few things he hasn’t, like a path to stu­dent-debt for­give­ness. You think that wouldn’t bring mil­len­ni­als flock­ing to Con­necti­cut? How about a re­designed health care sys­tem with a pub­lic op­tion, so peo­ple don’t have to go broke if they get sick? How about bet­ter sup­port for emerg­ing green-en­ergy sources?

I know there’s a piece of the new gover­nor steeped in the at­ti­tude of his great un­cle Corliss La­mont, who wrote: “The act of will­ing this or that, of choos­ing among var­i­ous cour­ses of con­duct, is cen­tral in the realm of ethics.”

Un­cle Corliss — the so­cial­ist philoso­pher son of Thomas La­mont, who was banker J.P. Mor­gan’s right-hand man — led the ACLU for more than 30

La­mont’s way of say­ing “Hi ev­ery­body” re­minds me so much of Mickey Mouse, that I al­most hal­lu­ci­nated white gloves on his hands.

years and won a land­mark free-speech case be­fore the U.S. Supreme Court in 1965.

So there was Ned La­mont, up on the stage in the packed House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, check­ing off a what’s-what of pro­gres­sive goals: re­tail weed; an “all-dig­i­tal gov­ern­ment” at a time when the DMV still works in hi­ero­glyphs on tablets of wet clay; 5th Gen­er­a­tion In­ter­net in the cities and WiFi ram­pant in the ru­ral streets; “30 min­utes from New Haven to Stam­ford; and 30 min­utes from Stam­ford to Man­hat­tan;” the $15 min­i­mum wage; and an ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem that nat­u­rally feeds into high-pay­ing jobs.

Might as well shoot high. Might as well dance all night at the In­au­gu­ral Ball in what I hope was the last that La­mont will be re­laxed for the next four years. There’s too much at stake for him to be happy.

The 19-shot Na­tional Guard ar­tillery salute and the fly­over by C-130 cargo plans were sad, shabby mil­i­taris­tic holdovers of his­tory. The ab­bre­vi­ated pa­rade halfway around the Capi­tol was less than its equal.

But that mo­ment on the plat­form in the House, when the sun blasted through the stained glass in the State Capi­tol’s his­toric House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, shin­ing on him like a po­etic spot­light of pos­si­bil­i­ties, that’s what I want to re­mem­ber about Gov. Ned La­mont’s first day in of­fice.

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