by Peter Freyne
Uttered this morning on “Charlie & Ernie” on AM 620 WVMT:
“Four years in and Jim Douglas is just now talking about affordability?
He’s had four years to lead on the issues of health care, energy and property taxes. The last four years has been a failure of leadership. More politics than substance. He’s been more interested in engaging in finding a way to get a political advantage rather than really dealing seriously with the challenges facing our state. And that’s what Scudder Parker pointed out yesterday and I think he did a great job of it!”
No. the above comment was not said by the gentleman seated above in his third-floor office on State Street - the rather successful and young (turned 30 last March) state chairman and executive director of the Vermont Republican Party - Jim Barnett. We all have known him over the last four years as "Mad Dog" Barnett, the 2002 deputy campaign manager - one of the whiz kids, who along with campaign Manager Neale Lunderville and Campaign Press Secretary Jason Gibbs, did what had to be done to get Republican Jim Douglas elected governor of so-called "liberal" Vermont four years ago.
Rather, they came from the lips of the Vermont Democratic Party’s talented new helper - Bill Lofy. Bill worked for Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone, a liberal Democrat, professor and passionate arm wrestler. Wellstone was elected to the Senate in 1990 - same year Vermont’s Bernie Sanders was elected to the House of Representatives. Wellstone died in a small plane crash in northern Minnesota in 2002. Bill’s since written a biography: Paul Wellstone: Life of a Passionate Progressive.
Maybe he’ll do a Bernie bio someday, eh? Before the plane crash, please!
Anyway, what was Barnett’s comeback on Charlie & Ernie?
"Well. I think that’s silliness. The governor outlined his affordability agenda in his State of the State address in 2006, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t talking about the issues related to that. In fact, the Democrats weren’t talking about affordability at all until the governor made it an issue. So to accuse him of going about it belatedly just exposes the fact that the Democrats weren’t talking about it at all. And that’s because they’re responsible for a lot of the issues we have with affordability in this state.”
I know. I know. I know. What about global warming? Endless disease, malnutrition, famine and war? Some folks have stopped watching the national TV news months ago. And a lot of people I bump into are on pins-and-needles as November 7 approaches - afraid to even acknowledge the throw-the-bums-out wave rising across the USA for fear of jinxing it.
I didn’t just take Mad Dog’s picture in his Montpeculiar office, I also asked a few questions.
How’s the Guv’s race looking?
"Very strong. The governor’s done his job well in the past three-and-a-half years. He’s got a bold agenda for the future that people are responding to."
What about Lite-Gov? How’s Doobie-Doo going to fare?
“I think [Dubie’s] going to prevail quite handily."
Marvelous Martha in the U.S. House race?
“Good. I still think she’ll pull it out....The fact this race is even in play shows voters reserving their judgment. The more they take the closer look the better Martha Rainville’s odds are."
Can we write off Tarrant in the U.S. Senate race against Ol’ Bernardo?
“Not at all. I think it’s still possible to win.”
Well, he had to say that about Richie Rich, didn’t he? Party loyalty? All that Tarrant money?
Anything’s possible, right?
Well, almost anything, but not that, dear Mad Dog.
And the Tarrant “Old Guard” of Bernie-haters knows no shame as the red-baiting has begun in letters-to-the-editor columns. “Radical socialist” and even “Communist” have been slapped on Vermont veteran congressman Sanders by Tarrant-touters.
Look, the dude’s got a record of eight years as mayor of Burlington, during which he led a social and economic transformation of the Queen City. Sanders and his Sanderistas took a sleepy, dusty town with a lingering 1950s feel, and, through successfully encouraging citizen participation, turned it into a thriving, award-winning “most livable city” in the United States.
Bernie followed that up with the last 16 years - repeat 16 years - in Congress. He's the longest-serving Independent in frickin American history! Vermonters are very, very familiar with him. That’s why they keep reelecting him. Duh!
As for Tarrogant Tarrant, Vermonters know very little about him except that he’s got more money than God (an estimated $300 million), and doesn't mind wasting tons of it on the most obnoxious ego trip this reporter has ever seen. And, Vermonters know, Tarrant was also in the middle of the biggest criminal scandal in Vermont history - the one at Fletcher Allen Health Care where Trustee Richie's trustworthiness isn't looking real good. After all, Tarrogant passionately defended the crooks who went to jail longer than anyone.
Oh, one more important thing we left out: He played basketball for St. Michael’s College in the mid-1960s.
Forgot about that.
Damn. He’s got my vote!