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M aking B ook
O n B e r n i e
T h e A u t h o r M r . San d e r s
as p u b l i c Go e s t o
E n e m y No . 1 Sl e e p
B y Wilson Ring
correspondent
W
ith this week's publica-
tion of Steven Rosenfeld's
book about B ernie B y J oshua M amis
Sanders'successful 1990 run for Correspondent
Congress, readers will . get . an
inSider'slook at the wmnmg side In 1972, in his first state-wide
f oneof the most acrimomous election, Liberty Union Senate
: tate-
wide
elections in recent candidate B ernard Sanders
V. rtJ l
ont
history. received 2. 2 percent of the vote.
Even before its publication, Twenty years later, U. S. Rep.
'M aking History in Vermont: Sanders recalled his rise at a
Th' Election of a Socialist to Progressive Vermont Alliance
Congress"has generated hordes fund-raiser. Each time he
ofpublicity as Vermont's first sought statewide office during
kiss-and-tell political book in these years, Sanders recounted,
decades portrays Sanders as a he drew more votes, until, in a
m. rcurial, quick-tempered and campaign dubbed "M aking His-
arrogant man who was out to tory in Vermont," he finally tri-
winat almost any cost. umphed.
Sanders, who has not read the The rise to power of this
book,calls it the bitter ram- iconoclastic firebrand should be
blingsofa disgruntled employee among the most compelling,
whowas denied a job after the mesmerizing tales of modern
election. And trying to discredit politics. Itcombines guts, ar-
thebook, Sanders staffers have rogance, unpar al-
beenquick to point out numer-lIleled political in-
ousminor factual errors. - stincts, a lot of pluck
Despite its acknowledged _ and luck with the
flaws, many political observers - maturation of the
in Vermont say the book pro- hippie generation
s an important look at the into the B ig Chill generation.
verick congressman and at B ut in the hands of Steven
e relationship between his Rosenfeld, a campaign aide who
campaign and the Vermont went on to write a kiss-and-tell
presscorps. insider account of campaign '90,
"I think the book is worth the motto shouldn't have been so
readingfromtherespectthatit's much "M aking History in Ver-
important to Vermonters that mont" (ironically, the title of the
theyunderstand the character of book) as "M aking Histrionics in
theperson they are voting for," Vermont. "
said Emerson Lynn,
thepublisher of the St.
Albans Messenger.
DUringSanders' cam-
paign' Lynn was one of
Sanders' staunchest
critics.
Whileit is doubtful
the 400-plus-page
hook, which gives an
lIl-depth(to the point
Wherereaders find out
WhatS<lmestaffers ate
~rlunch), day-by-day account of
ijecampaign, will be the defini-
. VeWork on Sanders it makes
Its ' ,
polhts, including:
B elYing Sanders' self-
created image as a politician
Wh~relied on his grassroots or-
h
garuz
atlo
ntowin the election he
rouht . '
ti g in a succession of na-
fu: ~al j!Olitical consultants for
. -raISing and strategy plan-
ning.
he~Sanders and his staff relied
" vllyon behind-the-scenes ad-
"Ca fro ,
stan: m a rormer campaign
rerser, as well as curren t staf-
tor'r} Vermont's senior sena-
wh' emOcrat Patrick Leahy
o \Vas offi . '
race icially neutral in the
wh: hit details the lengths to
ic camp'
lnani ul algn staffers went to
by pt . ate the Vermont press
and : Y1n
g
. to. the personalities
Vidual acuhanties of the indi-
reporters
0 .
a. . enf~1 at least one occasion
"'Ont r
d
, now a reporter at Ver-
~ght l~rnes, admitted to out-
Significng to reporters. Thia ia
~en~nt b~cause reporters
ijed ~ hYbeheve they are being
, ~o~v~r! jt ilJ much less
\;ontmuea on Page f:j
Making History In Vermont: TM
Election of a Sociali.t to
Congress, by Steven Rosenfeld.
(Hollowbrook Publishing,
$19. 911)
Rosenfeld, a re-
search and P. R. staf-
fer for the campaign,
portrays the Sanders
staff as disorganized,
rudderless, and con-
stantly reacting to
crisis. What's more,
Rosenfeld ia intent to
describe in more than
400 tedious pages that
B ernie Sanders is not
a nice guy. That B er-
nie Sanders wasn't nice to Dim.
That B ernie Sanders shoots
from the hip. That Sanders is
obsessed with the press. That
Sanders' massive fund-raising
efforts tapped an inordinate
number of out-of-staters. That . . .
One could go on, but why
bother? '{ermonters vvho have
followed Sanders know all this.
What's more, for many - and
here'a what Rosenfeld misses
completely - it'. why they like
him. If Sanders didn't fight, he
wouldn't be in Congress today.
Frustrated as a self-admitted
outsider in the campaign, and
frequently berated by Sanders,
Rosenfeld turns Making History
in Vermont into a long-winded
attempt at self-vindication.
In Rosenfeld's eyes, major
campaign crises - including the
accusationa Qftax-dodging in the
campaign payroll and the con-
fidential information mistaken-
ly faxed to the Vermont Press
B ureau - would have been
defused if only Sanders hadn't
overreacted. In this, as in other
areas, Rosenfeld viewed his
press-relations role in a tradi-
tiop~ ''Inse " N~mooth o~t>;. .
Continued on Page 0
Vennontt
u n t l
pendent, said he had spoken
with him about the prospect of
writing a book before he left to
Continued from P"lle 3 join the campaign. "It was a
commontobeable to proveit. natural political book to write if
The book portrays former Bernie won and I think Steve
Rutland Herald reporter Debbie understood that," said Lynn,
Bookchin, now Sanders' press Emerson's brother.
secretary, as on Bernie's "side" But Angelo Lynn said Rosen-
who couldbedepended on for a feld's decision to write a book
positive story when needed. "It about the campaign camebefore
gives credence to the claim by joining it. "Toapparently quote
Nancy Wright (areporter forthe thmgs the wayhedid, thereader
Vermont Press Bureau who needs to understand that he set
wrota acontroversial article ac- out with the idea of doing more
cusing Bookchin of favoring than just being on the cam-
Sanders) that Debbie Bookchin paign."
was working both sides of the The Vermont press has been
street," said BiIl Porter, of quick to see the efforts to dis-
Adamant, apolitical columnist. credit Rosenfeld's book as aclas-
Besides showing that sicexample of political spin con-
Sanders' WI!!' hard to work for, troJ . "Cansomebody write ablow
heoffersaglimpse as tohowthe by blow and have all of it be
~paign couldstrain hisfamily wrong? Steve has always been a
hfe by quoting Sanders' wife person whoprides himself onreo
J ane assaying her husband was search," said Emerson Lynn.
so a~!l""t "he doesn't deserve Sanders press aide Bookchin
towm. ., declined to comment further on
~ns!,'te of keepmg adetailed th~ book. "Bernie's got other
dally ~ournal, including tape things on his mind now" she
recordings of his impressions at said. "He's thinking of health
the end of the day, Rosenfeld, care and rebuilding the in-
wholeft ajob asareporter at the frastructure."
Addison County Independent to Sanders "gave the thing the
work for Sanders, vehemently best p~blicity he could have by
de~lles hejoined Sanders' cam. attacking Steve in the way'that
paign planning towrite abook. he did. It rather confirms some
But Angelo Lynn, Rosenfeld's of the things about his petulance
former bossat theAddison Inde- a?d inability to take any criti-
cisms," Porter said.
Will Roesnfeld's book mark
the beginning of aspate of books
about the workings of Vermont
politics?Theobservers doubt it.
"In a national book when
someone kisses and tells there's
bigbucks," Porter said.
... A u thor
~OLTON
VALLEY
is Station!
. . .
. . . S a n d e r s
Continued from Page 3
relations with the press co
But he seemed never to l"J ls.
that Sanders' successes graap
birthed by his confrontat:
e
,.
style. It allows Sanders t lIa!
viewedas an anti.establish 0be
outsider while enjoYint~t
benefits of free air time t
column space in the sta~n,d
media. e,
In its diary-style chronol
of the campaign, the b OllY k
d
.. 00
rowns in Its own minu tia a n d
factual errors. Among other Ill'
takes, Rosenfeld misspells thO
name of Sanders' SOD, incone e
ly identifies AFSCME UD
ct
.
leader Lindol Atkins as theh~~~
of a steelworkers' u nion a d
. h ' D
rmsnames teN ew North E d
school at which Sanders cast~
1990ballot. Noticing errors like
these, one is left wonder"
about the larger issues such
Dg
Rosenfeld's lengthy aC~OuDts :
conversations with Sanders and
others.
In the end, the book thuds
because instead of writing aboul
Sand~~, Ro.senfeld thinks "the
story' IS hIS own admittedl
limited view of the campai~
And for all Sanders' talk of the
unprecedented grassroots na-
tu,:" of his operation, the earn.
pargn wasn't really much dif.
ferent frommost.
Apparently, Rosenfeld naive.
ly equates radical progressive
politics with some sort of radio
cally progressive approach toin.
te~personal relations and cam-
P~lIgnstrategy. When Rosenfeld
discovers early in the campaign
that Sanders is a politician -
hellbent on winning, and an
S.O.B. to work for - he recoils
in horror.
M~y, though, Making His-
tory !n Vermont contends that
Bernie Sanders is an S.O.B. To
th!'t charge, evenhis closestalii.
might respond, "He might bean
S.O.B.,but he'sour S.O.B."