Incumbents who can get away with it deploy the Rose Garden strategy: low-visibility on the domestic front, high-visibility abroad. Election? What Election?
Only after deploying it, though, do candidates find out whether they can actually get away with it.
Which makes it dicey.
In Dubie’s case, the idea was to trump up a trip to Iraq — two weeks in a safe berth, well away from the fighting — and then break the news of the “mission” Primary Night, to steal the headlines from the Dunne campaign.
Once stateside again, sign up for very few debates, and attend even fewer. Starve the whole Lite Governor campaign of oxygen.
But unfortunately for Dubie, there was a powerful downside to this game-plan: Dubie’s absence left a media vacuum that his hard-working opponent Matt Dunne has moved aggressively to fill.
Two cases in point:
1) After the third scheduled debate — the first Dubie managed to attend — coverage revolved almost exclusively around Dunne’s chosen framework: that he will make full-time an office that Dubie has treated as a part-time obligation.
Every story from now to election day will be threaded with that central argument. Many will carry embarrassing headlines like this one today.
2) Running a campaign at a dog-trot will not only slow your acquisition of new endorsements, it will speed the loss of those you have.
Yesterday the Vermont State Troopers actually flipped their endorsement, from Dubie to Dunne — a development rendered all the more striking by the fact that the Troopers went on to re-endorse Jim Douglas.
Clearly, it isn’t ideology that motivates the boys in uniform: it’s attention, attention to their service, to their causes, to their daily needs, things like squad cars.
And attention, as Arthur Miller liked to say, must be paid.
So consider Dubie’s Rose Garden strategy — like Rainville’s “no fingerpointing” game-plan — officially scratched. Dubie realizes now that he has to run this race, or be quickly run over. Dunne, like Welch, will enjoy the surge of a national Democratic wave on Election Day; their totals should beat expectations. And Dubie is well aware of this fact.
But who knows, finally, what lurks in the mind of Brian Dubie? All we can do is search for illumination in his writings, which are rare and precious and cryptic.
In VDB’s Weekly Edition — available tomorrow in the mighty Vermont Guardian — we boldly go where no student of Dubie’s philosophy has ever quite gone before.
The piece is called “Thus Spake Brian: The Pretty Darn Timeless Wisdom of Dubie-Wan Kenobi.”
Which, we think, pretty much speaks for itself.
Late Update, Friday, 5:33 pm:
Bam! Flipped endorsement #2: The Stowe Reporter, which backed Dubie last time out, goes Dunne. Way Dunne.