With gratitude to Camper Van Beethoven:
Maybe he went to get a mohawk
Maybe he went to get some gnarly thrash boots
Maybe he went to ride his skateboard
Maybe he went to see the Circle Jerks.
Where, where the hell is Bill?
Where, where the hell is Bill?
I thought it was time to check in on Vermont's self-designated Prophet of Prosperity, Bruce Lisman. He of the "nonpartisan" Campaign for Vermont, the advocacy group that's spent at least a quarter-million of Bruce's Bear Stearns Bucks slamming the Democratic agenda and promoting conservative talking points. When last we checked in on Bruce, he was littering the airwaves with advertising and spreading his gospel through opinion pieces in various media outlets.
(What he wasn't doing much of, at all, was engaging in dialogue -- the supposed raison d'être of CFV. As Doug Hoffer recently pointed out on this site, virtually all of Lisman's communication is one-way and pre-produced. He may be promoting dialogue, but he's been conducting a months-long, self-funded monologue.)
Anyway, I visited the CFV website, and was rather surprised to see that Bruce hasn't been doing much of anything lately. The CFV site is almost as sleepy as Vermont Tiger, in fact.
After the jump: The absence of Bruce, and possible explanations.
There is one new listing under "LATEST NEWS." It's for a June 26 talk by Lisman at the Brattleboro Chamber of Commerce. (CFV doesn't offer any audio, and I would looove to hear a recording of that speech. Lisman's speeches reveal much more of his true agenda than his sanitized radio ads. Anyone out there sneak into the BCoC with a recorder?)
Otherwise, meh. There's only one other June listing in "LATEST NEWS," and it's just a note that one of CFV's partners, Richard Pembroke, Sr., had published an opinion piece in the Manchester Journal and on, ahem, True North Reports, that nonpartisan beacon of truth.
Before that, the "latest news" is from May 11, for goodness' sake. And that's just a note about an opinion piece by another CFV partner. Sad.
Click on "RESOURCES," and you see nothing much. Pembroke's opinion piece is the only entry more recent than May 10. Under "Press Releases," the most recent is May 1 -- CFV's lament over the legislature's failure to act on Lisman's agenda. No "news" at all in two months of campaign season?
The CFV website doesn't list any radio ads newer than April. And I have to say, it's been a while since I heard one of its ads on WDEV. (From Thanksgiving through most of this spring, CFV was buying a dozen ads per day on WDEV, and spending just as heavily elsewhere.)
And under "Interviews," nothing since Lisman's epic March 14 appearance on VPR. Yup, really engaging in that dialogue he treasures so much.
So we must ask the musical question: with the exception of his popup in Brattleboro, Where the Hell is Bruce? After several months of ubiquity, why has CFV gotten so sleepy? I can think of a few possible explanations:
Short Attention Span Bruce. CFV was a shiny new toy, but after a while he got bored with the whole tedious "trying to influence the political process" thing. Maybe he bought Bob Stiller's yacht.
Thin-skinned Bruce. He's taken a fair bit of heat, much of it from Your Friendly Neighborhood GMD. Probably a tough thing for a longtime Wall Street baron: he returns to the land of his humble upbringing to bestow his wisdom to the unwashed, only to become the target of our spitwads and paper planes. Where's the gratitude? The bowing before the throne, the kissing of the ring?
Please-Go-Away Bruce. Perhaps the returns on his winter/spring barrage were disappointingly small. How many people actually joined CFV, or responded to his tsunami of advertising? CFV might have made the same discovery as Americans Elect: that a bottomless wallet doesn't help you sell a pig-in-a-poke.
Bruce 2.0. Having established CFV through a high-profile media campaign, maybe Bruce has switched to a quieter grass-roots effort to organize a true political movement.
Snake in the Grass Bruce. He might have decided that spending over $200,000 before April 1 was a waste of money, since hardly anybody was paying attention to politics back then. (We were, of course, but we're sick little puppies with no social life.) It could be that he decided to pull back for a while, and launch a second offensive this fall.
My money's on Snake, but it's too soon to tell. We'll get some evidence on July 25, when lobbying groups have to turn in their spending reports. After that, if Bruce and CFV start popping up around Labor Day, then we'll know he's been saving his ammunition. If not, then perhaps Bruce will soon be nothing but a fond memory of yet another rich man trying (and failing) to co-opt Vemront's political process.