January 7th, 2011

And So It Begins: VDB’s Second Major Forrest Gump Moment, Involving An Inaugural Speech, Killer Seats, And Unfortunate Boom-Mike Placement

by Philip Baruth

Back in 2008, VDB was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, and we all assumed that Vermont (less population than any single neighborhood in Chicago) would wind up in the nose-bleed seats, by the central ventilation fan outlet. But no. We’d forgotten that Howard Dean was the Chairman of the DNC, and that this would be his last national convention with the power to Do Good Things.

So when we woke up at 4:30 am to catch the plane to Denver, we checked email and found a map of delegation seating. And shit howdy: we were in the front row. Literally. Could have chucked a pencil, underhanded, up onto the podium.

For which: thanks again, Governor Dean. Forever.

It was a Forrest Gump moment, to be sure, in which an unlikely individual is cast into choppy historical waters, but suffice it to say that VDB was loving life.

Fast-forward to yesterday’s inaugural. It turns out that when there’s a joint session of the Vermont House and Senate, the Senate sits up on the long dais, to either side of the podium. Also turns out that the Senate files in two by two, and parts at the podium, to fill the chairs on either side. Turns out further that as luck and tradition would have it, seat #12 (VDB) winds up sitting pretty much in the Lieutenant Governor’s lap, directly beside the podium.

Governor Peter Shumlin, right, speech complete; Lt. Governor Phil Scott center; VDB, left.

Which made for a spectacular view of a new era. It was a stirring speech, and every line was music to VDB’s ears: the broadband, the healthcare, the renewable energy, etc. Again, absolutely loving life.

Not an entirely glitch-free experience, of course.

Turns out as well that this inner radius is also the hunting ground of the state’s most accomplished photographers, and they got that way by being fearless about where they stand and shoot. Which is to say we spent roughly the first ten minutes with one photographer’s butt and fanny pack squarely in our face.

And then, to put it gingerly, there was the microphone incident.

If you look carefully at the Free Press photo above, you’ll see that whatever dignity remained after the fanny-pack incident was marred forever by unfortunate (and misleading) boom-mike placement.

Life, as Forrest liked to say, is like a box of chocolates. [Insert final candy-themed double-entendre here].

January 5th, 2011

A Brief Pre-Swearing-In Thank You

by Philip Baruth

Just heading out of VDB headquarters for the drive down to Montpelier, for the Senate swearing-in ceremony at 10 am. But I wanted to take a minute to thank all of you for your help and support and contributions over the last year and a half. That we won was something of a shock to some people in the County, but not to those who have watched the growth of the netroots closely. Because if you’ve watched closely, you know it’s not a marketing strategy, but a new way to form a family. A family with extremely outspoken political views, yes, but a family all the same. Very glad to be part of it all with you. More on the events of the day later.

January 5th, 2011

Brian Dubie Apologizes A Lot If Anyone Mistakenly Assumed That When He Said “Pay To Play” He Meant That Anyone Was Either “Paying” or “Playing,” At All, Ever

by Philip Baruth

You knew that Peter Shumlin had Brian Dubie chasing his own tail last cycle when the Dubie campaign suddenly began to attack David Blittersdorf. Generally speaking, GOP candidates succeed by championing business and job-creation; that Dubie tried to smear both his opponent and Blittersdorf simultaneously ceded the pro-business stance to Shumlin. And of course, it drew a lawsuit from Blittersdorf, no laughing matter. But all is now resolved. Dubie wrote the AllEarth exec a highly public PDF apology, and Blittersdorf has graciously dropped the matter.

dubie plants a seed

But VDB is another matter entirely, and we cannot and will not let it go without quoting the letter’s key laugh line and then, you know, laughing:

“The campaign between Peter and I was hard-fought and I regret any actions taken by my campaign that may have been interpreted as attacking you personally.”

To understand the humor here, you need to remember that Dubie’s campaign made a standing talking point of a “pay for play” relationship between Shumlin and Blittersdorf. That is, Dubie’s team stated explicitly, again and again, that favors (energy tax credits) were traded for campaign contributions.

Yet Dubie now apologizes if anyone interpreted this meme as a personal attack on the man he was accusing directly, again and again, of paying for playing. When pay for play can only happen, ever, between two corrupt individuals, by definition.

It would be as though someone had accused Dubie, just weeks before the election, of carnal relations with a sow, only to apologize later if anyone interpreted the pig-loving charge as somehow personal in nature. If you see VDB’s point.

But all’s well that ends well. The attack failed, the non-apology has been both issued and accepted, and tomorrow begins a much more promising chapter for renewable energy in the Green Mountain State.

New session. New Lieutenant Governor. Game on.

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