Audio accompaniment to this blogpost:
Well, good ol’ “Bitter Bob” Hartwell, outgoing Republicrat Senator from Bennington, has left his fellow Senators a parting gift: the op-ed equivalent of a flaming bag of poo, entitled “What Senate Democrats Must Do.”
Hartwell’s public statements have shifted to the right in recent months, starting with his infamous skepticism about climate change and continuing through his comments to VTDigger last week that the Democrats have gone too far to the left:
“There’s too much spending, there’s too much social engineering, going on. Our party is getting out of line,” he said.
His opinion piece is more of the same. It reads as though it comes, not from the moderate Democrat he claims to be, but from somewhere to the right of Phil Scott. Indeed, it’s a big fat sloppy wet kiss to the Republican Party, delivered one week before Election Day. I’m sure the timing is coincidental, cough, hack, choke.
Bitter Bob, doing research for his opinion piece.
He accuses the Democratic Party of becoming “more ideological and, therefore, less effective and more poorly focused on the real issues.” By which he means, the “real issues” that concern Bitter Bob Hartwell.
He then slaps around Democrats and the Shumlin Administration for the “poor rollout of Vermont Health Connect” and says “The Legislature must determine to put an end to the single payer scheme unless it can clearly show significant savings…”
A reminder: There are two goals in advancing single-payer. One is to bend the cost curve, and the other is to provide universal access to health care. If Bob is only interested in the former, well, I’m glad he will no longer represent the Democratic Party in the new biennium.
Then he gets to property taxes and school funding, which “inexcusably, the Legislature has done virtually nothing to control…” Remind me: wasn’t Bob Hartwell in the Legislature himself?
Also, in one badly-written sentence, he appears to endorse Scott Milne’s proposal for a freeze on property taxes.
Then he takes a dump on the Senate Education Committee for “a most unacceptable performance” in failing to address the issue to Hartwell’s satisfaction. He’s talkin’ to you, Dick McCormack, Don Collins, Phil Baruth, Bill Doyle and David Zuckerman.
Somehow I don’t think Bitter Bob was talking to his colleagues this way when the Senate was still in session and his words could have had some impact. Indeed, it’s hard to tell from this essay that Hartwell was a fairly influential member of the Senate majority instead of an innocent bystander.
He then slams “Vermont’s intoxication with large scale renewable energy,” which fits in with his doubts about climate change. It also buttresses his self-congratulatory impulses, as he upbraids the Senate for refusing to pass his bills to create new obstacles in the path of renewable energy.
After that, it’s on to the core Republican talking point: “Vermont continues to spend too much money,” especially on social services programs, and bitches about “throwing money at problems” in a way that’s straight out of the Angry Jack Lindley playbook.
Hmm. Angry Jack and Bitter Bob. The worst Vaudeville act ever.
And then Hartwell rants about something that’s only a major issue in his own mind: the legislature’s failure to repeal the Bottle Bill, which, he says, wastes money, contributes to carbon pollution*, and “shoves businesses… into New Hampshire.” And he takes a gratuitous slap at VPIRG — or, as Hartwell puts it, “one so-called ‘research’ group.”
* Which, according to Bob himself, isn’t really a problem.
The “get off my lawn” ranting continues for several more paragraphs, in which he bemoans the fact that nobody in the Senate is as wise as Bob Hartwell and unleashes a bunch of howlers, including:
— The Senate fails to act “as a team,” and instead pursues “the interests of each committee with little understanding of the effect… on the state as a whole.” Considering his hijacking of the Natural Resources Committee in pursuit of his favored hobbyhorses, that’s pretty rich.
— Vermont should be more like New Hampshire.
— Our economic doldrums have nothing to do with national trends, “but rather by policies internal to Vermont.”
— Dean Corren is a liar.
Yeah, that’s one huge stinking flaming bag of poo. Thanks, Bitter Bob, for giving us a farewell gesture that reminds us all how lucky we are that you’ve decided to get outta Dodge.
Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.