Paul Dame, freshly squeezed Vermont Republican Party chair (pictured above in his natural state), has put out an end-of-year best-of list designed to buoy VTGOP spirits. But when you read it, well, it’s kinda sad.
In his latest weekly email blast, which I get in my inbox So You Don’t Have To, he offers the party’s “Top 5 Moments of 2021.” (It was also posted on Vermont Daily Carbuncle because they need all the free content they can get, and you can find it there if you care to.) And I tell ya, the strain really shows. He had to dig pretty darn deep to get all the way to five.
And one of those five had nothing to do with Vermont. At all.
Meanwhile, Gov. Phil Scott’s management of Covid-19 doesn’t make the list. This, despite the fact that Scott managed things quite well for the first seven months of the year and since then, has hewed to Republican principles in refusing to impose new mandates despite the worsening of the pandemic. You’d think that would count for something, but not in VTGOPland. Scott famously has as little to do with his party as possible; apparently the feeling is mutual.
Anyway, let’s get to Dame’s chosen top five.
The very “best” VTGOP Moment of the Year was a legislative battle the Republicans lost. Dame cited Republican support for repealing the tax on military pensions as a party unifier that saw the Republican caucuses right in line with the governor.
Well, sure, Republicans can always unite around a tax cut. That’s nothing to brag about. But it shows you how desperate Dame is to find any issue that unites the party. And while he had to acknowledge defeat, he sees it as a winning issue. Fair enough. But in the process, he does something very surprising for a former lawmaker: He gets the legislative process wrong.
“I have already talked to our current legislators who have drafted Senate Bill S.12 to have this idea re-introduced,” Dame wrote. Aside from the redundancy of “Senate Bill S.12,” here’s the thing. “Senate Bill S.12” was introduced at the beginning of the 2021-22 biennium. In January it was referred to the Finance Committee, where it was pinned to the wall never to come down. But there’s no need to draft the bill or reintroduce it. It’s still there on the wall, and can be acted upon anytime in the 2022 session. I realize this is inside baseball, but again, a surprising botch coming from a former lawmaker and political mastermind.
Item #2 is another failure — or series of failures: “Governor Scott Sets Record for Most Vetoes in Vermont History.” Dame praises the governor for vetoing the Global Warming Solutions Act and the noncitizen voting ordinances proposed by Winooski and Montpelier, only to see the vetoes overridden. With victories like this, who needs defeats?
We’re only 40% of the way to five, and Dame is already scraping the bottom of the barrel. The number three moment was the VTGOP’s celebration slash fundraiser in honor of former governor Jim Douglas’ 70th birthday. All I can say is, if you’re reduced to featuring a guy who left politics 11 years ago, you’re not doing very well. Also, these state-level fundraising events usually draw a speaker from another state, preferably someone prominent or on the rise. The VTGOP has had trouble landing that kind of celebrity, so they had to pull Douglas out of mothballs.
And then Dame departs our blessed shores. The VTGOP’s fourth best moment of the year was the election in Virginia that saw Republicans win the governorship and control of one legislative chamber. The VAGOP emphasized education, parental choice in particular, in its successful campaign. Dame sees that as a model for success in Vermont.
He doesn’t mention that the Republican education “agenda” favors school vouchers and opposes the phantom menace of critical race theory, a fair teaching of American history, anything to do with sex or gender education, and wants to censor school libraries.
In the process, Dame singles out one local conservative who won a School Board seat this year — without naming the candidate.
Can you guess who?
Yes, that Liz Cady, who compared Covid vaccination and Black Lives Matter to Nazi Germany and brought embarrassment to her community in the process.
That is Paul Dame’s model for Republican candidates. Liz Freakin’ Cady.
The last of the Top 5, unsurprisingly, is Dame’s first venture into event planning: the “Let’s Go, Brandon” rally. Which he still insists had nothing to do with the vulgar anti-Biden connotation of the phrase.
Oh, and he’s still trying to sell leftover LGB merch.
So that’s it. That’s the list that Dame sees as giving the VTGOP “more momentum than I’ve ever felt in the nearly 10 years I’ve been involved with the party.”
Reminder: It was five years ago that Phil Scott became governor. To Dame, that pales in comparison to a bunch of legislative defeats, a good election night in Virginia, and Liz Cady.
I realize that part of Dame’s job is to buoy Republican spirits, and I don’t envy him that Herculean task. But this is awfully thin gruel. And it mentions Phil Scott as little as possible. That tells you all you need to know about the “unity” of the VTGOP.