Daily Archives: April 30, 2015

Okay, Bernie, go for it.

So Bernie Sanders is running for President. Good for him.

He doesn’t have a snowball’s chance, of course. FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten thoroughly debunks any notion of a Sanders victory:

Polls show Sanders doesn’t match up well against Clinton. He trails her by nearly 57 percentage points nationally, 54 percentage points in Iowa and 40 percentage points in New Hampshire.

More than that, there seems to be very little desire on the left for a challenger to Clinton. She regularly earns 60 percent support among self-described “liberal” and “very liberal” voters, according to national polls. And Sanders’s colleagues in the Senate with the most liberal voting records — those who would be key to starting a mutiny against Clinton — have already endorsed her.

Which is not to say that Bernie shouldn’t run. He absolutely should. But his candidacy should be seen as a useful counterpoint to Hillary Clinton’s cautious centrism, and a rare opportunity to get high-visibility coverage for Sanders’ left-of-center ideas. Rarely does a leftie get the kind of serious media exposure that is routinely given to conservative nutbags like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. Having Bernie share the debate stage with Hillary is a singular opportunity to spread the leftist vision and force the front-runner to define herself more clearly.

She’ll win. And if she becomes President, I expect the Sanders challenge won’t have any effect on her administration. But it’s useful nonetheless, if only for the media exposure.

Besides, what has Bernie got to lose? Nothing. He’s not up for re-election in 2016; he’s near the end of his political career anyway; and while he has little hope of matching Clinton in fundraising, he doesn’t have to. He’s got a good start already, in the big fat campaign accounts that he’ll never need in Vermont.

He had four and a half million bucks at the end of December. He’s got proven broad appeal to a nationwide base of small donors who can be counted on to give generously (as defined within their financial limitations) to a Sanders presidential bid.

Besides, a Bernie candidacy will be less fueled by money than by the force of his personality and ideas. Bernie doesn’t need a robust 50-state ground game to achieve his goals; he needs to hold noisy rallies with partisan crowds cheering him on.

So go ahead, Bernie. There’s no shame in being a useful foil, and in capping your thoroughly unlikely political career with a high-profile run for the Presidency.

I do wish you’d found a way to announce your campaign in Vermont, though.

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A new path forward for Peter Shumlin?

Maybe he’s pulling a Tom Salmon, and planning to run as a Republican next year.

Nah, I doubt it. But it’d explain the sudden, aggressive, and decisively centrist re-insertion of himself into legislative debates. At the very last minute. After months of serenely floating above it all, and letting lawmakers shred his proposals to pieces.

The latest comes from VTDigger’s Anne Galloway, who tells us that the top Senators on taxes and spending were yanked into the Governor’s office yesterday afternoon to get an earful of his displeasure with the current budget and tax bills. According to Galloway, he “hates the tax bills from the House and Senate and would prefer to cut more from the budget.”

And:

While it’s the governor’s prerogative to influence the legislative process and ultimately sign or veto the legislation, Shumlin’s down-to-the-wire timing perplexed insiders who say the governor has had four months to influence the budget and tax bills, and has not made a concerted effort to do so until now.

… “Disrespectful” was a word several people used to described Shumlin’s late-game tactics.

He certainly seems to have adopted a scorched-earth approach toward his relationship with the Legislature — after promising, after the 2014 election, an open and collaborative approach. You know. that listening and learning stuff.

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VPR and Sorrell: It got worse

Okay, so Vermont Public Radio got my worst grade for its coverage — or should I say “complete absence of coverage” regarding the campaign finance scandal threatening to engulf Vermont Eternal General Bill Sorrell.

VPR didn’t even send a reporter to Tuesday’s Senate Government Operations Committee hearing, at which Sorrell reversed course and endorsed the idea of an independent investigation of his campaign activities. Something he had consistently refused to do since the fall of 2012, mind you.

And then today, the big guest on “Vermont Edition” was none other than Bill Sorrell himself.

I gave VPR its bottom-of-the-barrel grade before I head the Sorrell interview.

Now I have. And VPR just fell below the bottom of the barrel.

First of all, having devoted no perceptible airtime to the allegations against Sorrell, they give him the VPR platform for a solid half hour?

And then, even worse, they spend the first 20 minutes of the interview NOT talking about campaign finance, but the GMO labeling law and this week’s developments in the case. Jane Lindholm’s intro didn’t even mention Sorrell’s troubles; there was a single passing generic reference to “campaign finance.”

Talk about ignoring the elephant in the room. We have one of our top elected officials having to accept an independent investigation of his activities — something that has rarely or perhaps EVER happened in Vermont history — and you don’t lead with it? You didn’t even mention it?

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