Pity poor Paul Dame, freshman Republican lawmaker, whose blissful ignorance was suddenly and violently stripped away as he was forced to the disheartening realization that politicians sometimes do political things.
Well, that’s the charitable interpretation of his opinion piece, entitled “Stop the Blame Game,” posted on VTDigger this week. The uncharitable view is to see it as a cynical attempt to seize the high road and ignore reality in the process.
Dane is reacting to an opinion piece written by Rep. Tim Jerman, vice chair of the Vermont Democratic Party, which accused the Republicans of putting their “negativity machine… in full gear,” and “trashing the… achievements of the 2015 Vermont Legislature.”
Dame is indignant over Jerman’s “partisan and inflammatory” essay that lowers itself to “partisan name-calling” instead of working together to meet the challenges facing Vermont.
Shocking, I know, that a top Democrat would try to attack Republicans. Mr. Dame is either the freshest babe in the legislative woods, or he’s being deliberately mendacious. Because if you take a gander at recent statements from the Vermont Republican Party, you see a consistent pattern of partisan attack.
Dame effectively accuses Jerman of poisoning the well of bipartisan cooperation. Truth is, the Republicans have been pissing in that well for months and months. And somehow Dame is surprised — nay, shocked — that Jerman might actually decide to respond in kind.
To illustrate my point, let’s take a stroll down the Memory Lane of VTGOP press releases.
On June 25, the party posted an essay by Rep. Heidi Scheuermann headlined “Vermont Needs New Leadership,” in which she accused Democratic leaders of “knowingly overestimat[ing] economic growth and ta revenues,” and characterized Democratic claims of balanced budgets as “simply not true.” How much more partisan can you get than accusing your opponents of lying as a matter of routine policy?
On June 19, the Republicans issued the latest in a series of cut-and-paste attacks on the “Shumlin-Shap Smith Economic Policies of the Past,” slamming their “failed policies and lack of fiscal discipline.” Sounds right friendly to me.
When Governor Shumlin announced he would not seek re-election in early June, VTGOP Executive Director Jeff Bartley issued a nasty poison-pen letter that sarcastically “praised” Shumlin for finally making a decision that’s best for Vermont. As I wrote at the time, it would have been a great opportunity to be just a bit diplomatic, but Bartley couldn’t resist descending to his bottom-of-the-barrel tactics. Way to build bipartisan spirit there, Jeffy.
On June 5, the VTGOP crossposted an essay by the putatively nonpartisan Bruce Lisman. I guess they couldn’t resist his iteration of their toxic talking points — the administration is guilty of “incompetence” and “mismanagement” for which “the people will pay.”
I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. The Republicans have consistently and gleefully fired all their available popguns at the Democrats. And somehow Paul Dame is shocked and dismayed when Tim Jerman gets tired of it all and fires a volley of his own.