Friday, March 16, 2007

On Politics & Pool

Well, well, well, who needs high-priced lobbyists like the gents over at Kimball Sherman & Ellis when all you need is some change for the pool table and a thirst for a mid-week beer? Holy shit, the pols were out in Montpelier last night. And, interestingly enough, the Dems were at McGillicuddy’s and the Repubs were at Charlie O’s.

I guess they might see it as reaching out to a different constituency. I mean, do the Dems know who owns McGillicuddy’s? Why, Mr. Dave Nelson, of course – a red-blooded Republican like few others in town. In fact, he’s so goddamn Republican and connected that he’s one of the only people in town who could both run a bar AND coach high school basketball. Hey, it sure beats teaching social studies, huh?

But if I had to guess why the pols were where they were last night, I’d hazard to say that the Dems were just confused (nothing new there) and the Repubs are just doing their best imitation of their boss-man, Gov. Douglas. No, no, no, I’m not suggesting that Jimmy D. does any bar hopping. In fact, it’s hard to imagine Douglas even ordering a large Coke – not when a small Coke is cheaper and probably all you really need. Wait, on second thought, Douglas would order the water and then borrow someone’s cell phone to call home and brag to the wife how he just saved $1.25! Oh Jimmy, you’re sooooo crazy!

Nope, the Republicans hanging out at Charlie O’s are imitating Douglas’ “get out and see the people” thing he’s got going on now with his rather dopily titled “accountability tours.” Couldn’t someone have helped him with this title? I mean, the guys already got a serious accounting-thing going on, and it probably wouldn’t hurt to hip him up a bit, you know. But, then again, it’s all for show anyway. And the hundred or so folks who showed up to hear him at each of his various stops last week would have come no matter what they were called.

The funny thing is that the Dems went ape-shit over Douglas’ tour of the state, as if it was some kind of radical idea to visit places other than Montpelier and Burlington to talk and listen to Vermonters. The Dems, for example, put out breathless press releases claiming that Douglas was just “playing politics” and setting the stage for future campaigns. And to that most of the media and others privy to such rhetorical ninniness said: No shit, Sherlocks.

Guess what, Dems? This IS politics. And it would clearly appear that you’re getting your asses kicked, even though every poll – not to mention the majorities you hold everywhere – would seem to suggest that you should be winning this game. Hmm, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to get out and “play politics” by meeting with people, crafting a message, and – are you ready for this - LEAD.

I’m reminded of the Cindy Sheehan hearings a couple of weeks ago. As you’ll recall, the Republicans did some fine organizing there, too, clearly raining on what should have been a mere rally for the anti-war left. But, while the Republicans sent all their top brass to the event, the Dems could hardly be found anywhere. And the sleepy Progs were absolutely nowhere in sight, probably all busy trying to raise money for Pollina’s ridiculous milk company that is currently saving all of two farmers. You go, guy.

Oh well, what political party would need to take advantage of the 70% of the Vermont population that agrees with Sheehan and wants the troops home now? Dopes.

The Dems and the Progs seem to have nothing but contempt for grassroots politics and meeting and greeting the people they’re pretending to lead. Why else would they get in such a huff over Douglas holding public meetings with the people? And why else would they run like cockroaches from the left’s rather impressive grassroots showing on Town Meeting day that managed to get nearly 40 towns to stand up and do what the Dems & Progs are too afraid to do: Demand an end to the war and the impeachment of Bush?

And judging by the gallivanting by the Republicans last night – several elected officials and a couple high-level appointees to boot – at Charlie O’s, these fellas enjoy hanging with the people and being real. As opposed to the Dems at McGillicuddy’s who were still in their ties and jackets and seemingly just wanting to pretend to be near actual people (as long as they didn’t get too close or try to share their popcorn). Can you say: Stiff? I knew you could.

But before I let the Republicans off too easy, I gotta ask: What’s with all the shit Senator Illuzzi’s taking for holding the Sheehan hearings? I keep hearing from folks that Vince is getting reamed from Republican insiders and some grassroots folks for giving the left the opportunity to come in and talk about the war and Bush before his committee. This makes no sense to me. First, Illuzzi’s doing what the Republicans seem to be doing best this legislative session: listening to people. And, secondly, the Republicans should be thrilled with the way the hearings turned out, especially since their arch-nemesis, Cindy herself, gave a dreadful speech and awkwardly left in total silence.

If anything, these Republicans who are bitching should be patting Illuzzi on the back for holding the hearing and giving them an opportunity to at least look like they don’t belong to a 30% minority on this issue. And the left should be giving Illuzzi shit for not stopping the angry mom, Marion Gray, from her completely out-of-bounds comments directed at Sheehan (“you’re an embarrassment to your son’s memory”). But I guess that would presuppose that the left is actually awake enough to complain. Good luck with that.

So, if all you citizen types want to bypass the Kevin Ellis’ of the world and get all the time you want or need with the pols, hit the Montpelier bars on a mid-week night – especially Thursday – and get all the ears you’ll need for free. But, be warned, some of them are damn good at pool. I should know, I got my ass kicked.

And you thought I went out just for the beer? No way, this is about Democracy. Yeah right.

Snark on.