Tom Steyer, the California billionaire who has threatened to dump cash into the state’s senatorial contest unless candidate Stephen Lynch changes his support of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, seems to be yet another testament to the thin connection between great wealth and intelligence. That said, Lynch’s March 22 op-ed response, “High noon? I won’t be shoved,” is also disturbing.
Throughout his political career, Lynch has shown an unbecoming (and unsenatorial) tendency to portray himself and his supporters as long-suffering victims who need to have a “High Noon”-style showdown with their opponents. For Lynch, Steyer is not just a misguided plutocrat; he is an opportunity to conjure a shootout on a dusty Western street.
But let’s be clear: Massachusetts voters don’t want Lynch to play Gary Cooper. They want him, as a candidate for the Senate, to counter Steyer with a cogent explanation of his positions: Why does he support the pipeline?
For that matter, why did he vote against Obamacare? Why he is ambivalent regarding women’s reproductive rights?
No one can doubt that Lynch is “tired of being shoved.” What is in doubt is his ability to defend himself in a civilized debate.