I don’t think Deb Billado is planning to resign anytime soon.
The Vermont Republican Party chair made that clear when she devoted her most recent weekly newsletter to a very fringey speech made by the very fringey South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem. It was a shot across the bow of Republican lawmakers who recently called for her resignation — and a slap in the face to Gov. Phil Scott.
You see, Scott and Noem are polar opposites on Covid-19 policy. Scott has proceeded with great caution, erring (mainly) on the side of public safety. Noem has kept her state wide open — including the granddaddy of all superspreaders, the Sturgis motorcycle rally.
The result: Vermont has a death rate of 27 per 100,000 residents, the second lowest among the states. South Dakota has lost 189 out of every 100,000, the seventh worst death rate in the nation. In total Covid-19 cases, Vermont is the best in the nation at 1,654 per 100K, while South Dakota is second-worst at 11,958 per 100K. How about testing? Vermont has conducted 133,174 tests per 100K — more than one test per resident. South Dakota? Way near the bottom, at 44,827 tests per 100K.
So, Vermont is doing far better at tracking the virus, keeping people healthy, and keeping them alive. I can’t say that Billado endorses South Dakota’s Covid “strategy,” but she went out of her way to highlight Noem’s views in a message to all Vermont Republicans. Now, maybe Billado didn’t intend it as direct criticism of Vermont’s govenror, but I bet you dollars to donuts that Team Scott sees it that way.
Beyond that, there’s the issue of Billado calling a collection of QAnon-adjacent nutbaggery a “thoughtful speech.” We’ll run it down after the jump.
Noem opens with the ritual condemnation of the January 6 Capitol riot. But she absolves then-president Trump and all Republicans of any special blame. And she explains away the violence as the product of widespread “frustration [that] has been building for many years.” So, it’s okay to attack the Capitol if you’re mad, I guess?
Then she says the only thing I agree with, although I’m sure our interpretations are diametrically opposed: “Republicans have had opportunities” to address the country’s problems (health care, immigration, deficit spending), but have failed. I get that.
Noem then pivots to the Georgia special elections, which resulted in “two communists” becoming U.S. Senators.
Let that sink in. Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, “communists.”
After that, it’s on to “the left’s indoctrination” of America’s youth in our schools and colleges, and an implicit endorsement of Trump’s “1776 Project.”
Moving on to the pandemic.
Last year, we saw governments all across the country shut down people’s lives. …Covid didn’t crush the economy. Government crushed the economy.
To put it plainly, “Leaders like Phil Scott crushed the economy.” Never mind about South Dakota’s catastrophic coronavirus numbers. Noem’s policies may have unnecessarily killed hundreds upon hundreds, and sickened tens of thousands, but hey — she kept the restaurants open.
But wait, there’s more. What about the Black Lives Matter protests?
In 2020, despite the virus, if you wanted to riot, loot, and burn buildings down, the government either stood idly by while you did that, or worse, tacitly encouraged the destruction.
Yuh-huh. Never mind that (1) the vast majority of the protests and protesters were peaceful, (2) far from standing idly by, cops and soldiers beat, tear-gassed and pepper-sprayed to wretched excess, and (3) the government did prosecute people with great relish and little discretion. Otherwise, governor, sound reasoning.
There’s more, much more, painfully more, including an apocalyptic view of present-day politics, but that will suffice to show you what kind of politician Deb Billado holds up as a model for all Republicans. And it ain’t Phil Scott.
Note: As of this writing, Billado’s latest newsletter was sent to the party’s mailing list on January 22. It has yet to be posted online. When it is posted on the VTGOP website, it will be at this page.