The Tarrant Senate campaign — like no other campaign in Vermont history — is banking on image to close the deal: both the biographical (local basketball hero hits IDX jackpot) and the purely graphical (top-end campaign commercials, strung out in interlocking narrative sequence).
Much money has been spent on planning these images, and the relationship between them. Much money.
More than I make in a year, more than you make in a year, just on planning, drafting, story-boarding these long imagistic sequences. Leaves, lay-ups, long shots of a tall gentle man surrounded by children.
It’s against this backdrop that Rich Tarrant seems so breath-takingly clumsy thus far. His little residency/homestead snafu has done more to link him with the carpetbagging ghost of Jack McMullen than Bernie’s people could have ever dared dream.
“This is the stuff that I guess as a newcomer I should have expected,” Tarrant said by way of mea culpa.
Newcomer: arguably the single-most expensive word ever uttered in Vermont politics. Rough estimate: that one word unwrote a hundred thousand dollars of I’m-your-neighbor campaign roll-out.
But it gets worse. If you go to Tarrant’s website, you are confronted immediately by a slick banner featuring a smiling Rich Tarrant — an almost aggressively smiling Tarrant.
There’s something vaguely unsettling about it, but it takes you a minute to put it together.
The banner is a composite: fall leaves, a church and a barn on the left; icy winter and a large Tarrant on the right. Tarrant is way out of scale; judged against the barn, for example, he seems about 19 feet tall.
And then suddenly you realize why this picture is giving you the willies: it’s the abominable snow monster — the Bumble — from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
If you think I’m exaggerating,
That’s the story buried in the Tarrant website banner: the Bumble lurching out of a frozen forest to attack a sleepy village that doesn’t have the slightest idea what’s about to strike.
Of course, this Bumble has already labeled itself a “newcomer” — hobbling itself for no apparent reason — so the people of the village can probably afford to go on sleeping.
But not too deeply. Never forget: Bumbles bounce.