by Peter Freyne
Time to play catch-up!
Your new Vermont blogger got swamped this week and he hasn’t had time to blog-a-bit about someone on a lot of people's minds and in a lot of peoples faces if they have a mailbox or own a television in Vermont.
So, what do you think of the latest barrage of political TV commercials paid for by the wealthiest candidate in Vermont political history?
I'd be worrying about that global-warming stuff, if I were you, Richie.
The latest Tarrant TV ads are...well, like stuff you see in Rhode Island or Illinois or....Florida. You've seen them. They're as negative and nasty as we've ever seen in Vermont and feature the faces of mean-looking old people accusing Vermont's eight-term Congressman Bernie Sandersof having voted to support and defend the rights of every kind of despicable scumbag imaginable!
Can this stuff work in Vermont?
Guess, we’ll see, eh?
But think about it? Seriously, folks, what else has Richie Rich Tarrant got?
He may have had a good jump shot 40 years ago at St, Michael's College, and he built a successful software business and sold it to G.E. for $1.2 billion! But other than contributing hundreds-of-thousands of dollars to right-wind conservative candidates, causes and organizations over the years (Yes, he did make one donation to Dean for America, and he's always happy to remind you of it), Mr. Tarrant has absolute zippo for political experience.
Look. It's not his fault. All he can do is buy the best talent out there, money being no object. And we're talking about the best talent to slime, slam and smear a man who's been in Vermont public life and in the public's eye (and ears!...and face! ) for the last 25 years.
All one in Rich Tarrant's shoes can possibly do politics-wise is remind everyone again and again and again and again that the other guy is really a friend of child molesters and drug traffickers and God knows who else! One tries to keep the spotlight on the other guy.
Hey, we all know propaganda works, don’t we? Can anyone say “weapons of mass destruction?”
Certainly, Ol' Bernardo, the solid favorite in the Vermont Senate Race, anticipated the over-the-top, new-to-Vermont-style Tarrant assault. Rich, given his political record, or lack of record, had no where else to go. I don’t think Team Bernie were expecting to see it before Labor Day - a little early to go for the groin kicks. Kids aren’t even back in school.
On August 15, Team Tarrant unveiled www.berniesrecord.com. Who isn't online these days. I get email from Wake Robin readers, God bless 'em!
Yes, indeed, since “Dean for America” broke the politics-as-usual ice back in 2003 from its headquarters in South Burlington, Vermont, the Internet has become a bigger and bigger part of this game.
That was demonstrated when the Sanders for Senate Campaign quickly launched a counter-website called “The Truth.”
Catchy title, eh?
And Team Bernie had already cut a TV spot. It was “in the can,” Just waiting for the Tarrant mud to start flying:
“I’m Bernie Sanders and I approve this message because dishonest ads should not be a part of Vermont politics, For months, my opponent Rich Tarrant has been spending millions telling us about himself. Well, it’s his money and he can spend it if he wants but he has no right to distort my record or what I stand for. I can’t match his money ad-for-ad, but I’ll let the truth speak for itself. I trust you to use your good judgment. Please, go to my website and check the facts. Thanks for listening.”
Does it work?
Well I do know a veteran Statehouse Republican old timer stopped me the other day to complain about the Tarrant ads.
"Look, we all know he pulled himself up by his own bootstraps and started a succceessful business and that's about it. Good for him!," said the rock-ribbed, seventh-generation, deer-hunting Vermont Republican. "But, please!" he begged me with feeling in his voice, "Tarrant's got to stop running those damn ads. They're awful! People are gonna lose respect for the man. After all, everybody already knows Bernie. And they don't know much of anything about him except for his money."
Good Republican advice, eh?
Did you catch the unusually frank comment about Tarrant’s latest ad campaign by the Vermont Media’s favorite current “political science professor” commentator in Darren Allen’s story?
"What it signals to me is a certain amount of desperation on Tarrant's part," Davis said, referring to recent polling done by both political parties that show Sanders way ahead of his Republican opponent. "Looking at self-financed candidates, they win when they have a message. I think Tarrant is trying to find a message."
No rush, eh? Still got 73 days to come up with something.
Hey, how about “Bernie had a sex-change operation!”
How about "I Made a Shitload of Money and I'm Over 60 and I'm Bored As Hell!"
.....more later today, so y'all check back.
It's a Tarrant Weekend in Vermont!
*SATURDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE
A spin downtown and around on the two-wheeler. Gorgeous day in the Peoples Republic of Burlington, Vermont. Absolutely packed downtown!
A constant moving carpet of people sliding through the big and beautiful Farmers Market in City Hall Park or doing the Church Street Marketplace March. Lots of parents of UVM freshman, many with kid-in-tow. The dorms have been filling up for two days. Remember what it felt like for you?
Was thinking while riding across campus a little later, looking at the new crop of rather clean, well-coiffed-and-attired frosh, I realized they would be the Class of 2010. Their junior year will coincide with the 2008 U.S. Presidential election. One hell of a year to remember, we'd bet.
And my gut tells me they will be the most politically-aware and politically-active college generation since the Sixties. They, quite simply, have to be, don't they?
Anyway, next to the gossip flying about the Democratic Primary for States Attorney, the best treat downtown was striking up a conversation with a real, live archeologist on Church Street!
Didn’t know September was Vermont Archeology Month, did you?
UVM researcher/analyst and archaeologist Charles Knight Ph.D. had a table set up. Lots of arrowheads. And a very, very nice 35-page program to distribute on September’s “Calendar of Events.”
But the highlight was - I, the blogger, learned something new!
Do you know what an atlatl is?
Oh, really? Never heard of it? And you claim a college education, right?
Dr. Knight the archaeologist had two atlatls laid out across his table. Six-foot long they were. He said they used to be quite common in the good old days: 20,000 A.D. to 7000 A.D.
The atlatl (pronounced AHT-lah-tuhl) has been in human hands a lot longer than cell phone, the golf club, or the M-16 will ever be. You do not want to get struck by the spear shot by one of these babies - even if you are a Spanish Conquistador in shining armor.
In fact, the atlatl is making a comeback in Pennsylvania - honest!
Sorry, got a little sidetracked by an archaeologist. More interesting than Tarrant's record. Because with a record like Tarrant's how could anyone kid themselves into thinking they have a shot?
Check back later.