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Monday, June 11, 2007

Douglas Responds to "Cheerleader" Charge

Gov Trust me, it's a wee bit unusual for a member of a state's congressional delegation to publicly smack a state's governor in media land. But that's what happened over the weekend when Democratic U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy let it be known in no uncertain terms here in "Freyne Land" that he viewed Republican Gov. Jim Douglas as "a cheerleader for the war and the administration all the way through."

We weren't going to let it fly without getting a response from the alleged cheerleader.

Checked his online "Public Appearance Schedule" and saw our governor would be making a 9 a.m. appearance at a national Conference of State Medicaid Directors at the Sheraton Burlington.

Hopped in the jalopy. Turned on the radio.

"At least five Americans were killed in Iraq yesterday, three in a suicide-bombing at a checkpoint that also injured eight."


Meanwhile there's the bold leader who made it all possible, President George W. Bush, smiling on the TV screen from Sofia this morning raising his glass in a toast with the Bulgarian President Paranov. Bulgaria?

Anywhere but Washington is the place to be when you just set the all-time record for lowest presidential approval rating - 29 percent.

I know, some wonder how he could even be that high.

Gov. Douglas was his usual charming and witty self this morning as he welcomed the state Medicaid officials from across the nation to Vermont. Learned a few things from Gentleman Jim:

* There are 19 cities in the United States that are bigger than Vermont
* Vermont first adopted the name "New Connecticut"
* Vermont's the second healthiest state
* The second oldest state, and
* Has the second-lowest number of uninsured

Also learned from a National Association of State Medicaid Directors official that since the NASMD's last meeting in November, 26 out of 50 state Medicaid Directors have left their posts. That's a staggering 52 percent turnover rate!

Vermont's Medicaid Director, Josh Slen, however, has been in his post since 2003. A seasoned veteran, eh?

Anyway, Pedro, get to the point, dammit! What did Jim Douglas say about Pat Leahy calling him a "cheerleader" for the Bush-Cheney War in Iraq?

Well, I caught him in the hall after his speech. Just the two of us and the state trooper. Told Jim what Patrick had said - and what we had published in Freyne Land.

DOUGLAS: Does that make it so?

FREYNE: I don’t know.

DOUGLAS: I think we’ve covered this ground a lot.

FREYNE: I just want to get it from the horse’s mouth.

Well, I expect that the protesters are interested in the congressional offices because they [the congressional delegation] have something to say about it, whereas I don’t. They’re the ones who authorize military action, authorize the expenditures for that action. I think their concern is directed appropriately.

FREYNE: As far as I’m aware, your only criticism  of the war policy was a few months ago when you called for an exit strategy. But I have never heard you criticize the policy or say it was wrong, a mistake. As you know, many people are saying that it was a lie about the ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and all that stuff. You’re a man [who is] very careful with your words, which we appreciate, but are you critical of the policy? Have I missed something?

DOUGLAS: Well, your question was about the protesters and I have nothing to do with the decision to authorize the use of force or fund it. Members of Congress do.

FREYNE: So you're drawing the line there? I’m not going to get past that?

End of interview. Douglas did a very smooth Pontius Pilate, washed his hands of the matter and off he went.

I've learned from years of experience that one is not going to get Jim Douglas to address a subject he does not wish to address, unless you've got a few other reporters, preferably with TV cameras, who are also interested in an answer to the same question.

Incidentally, here's the response we received last night from the Guv's spokesman Jason Gibbs to this question: "Given what we all now know regarding no Iraq WMDs, no link to 9/11 etc, does the governor have any criticism of the White House war policy or for leading us into this mess?"

Mr. Gibbs via email: The Governor has been crystal clear on this issue.  He expects the Congress and the administration to stop pointing fingers at one another and get to work finding a real, responsible exit strategy that will bring our troops home as soon as possible.

Vermonters, and all Americans, are frustrated by the lack of progress in Washington and expect both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue to get their act together and find a way to bring this war to a conclusion.

You may have noticed neither gent was the least bit critical of the disastrous, dishonest Iraq War policy or of its architects.

By this time next year, I predict,  there won't be many Republican pols left standing out there who won't be publicly critical of the Bush-Cheney War policy.

What do you think?


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Huge applause for Leahy for finally pointing out Douglas's cheerleader status, mostly with regard to Bush in general, but also about the war. Douglas has been ducking and dodging his Bush election and re-election chairperson title for far too long. I hold Douglas somewhat responsible for both Bush and the war because he is the one who told Vermonters Bush was good for America-and for Vermont. Had Douglas had a spine and refused to cheerlead for Bush again in 2004, maybe it would have gained some notice outside of Vermont. At least most Vermonters were smart enough not to follow Douglas's poor advice and actually vote for Bush, just like we didn't listen to him about Tarrant either. Now if we could just push his sorry ass out the door.


I would love to see Douglas dumped in the next election. The man has no spine, I'm surprised he can decide which pair of socks to put on in the morning - maybe all of his are the same color.


As a former reporter let me just say that it should be relatively easy to detail what Douglas has or hasn't said about the war. There is a public record on tape, video tape or in print. It should be easy to find, but might take some work to dig it out. Gibbs' latest statement sound very different from my recolections of Douglas' early statements about the war and his support for the Bush/shrub administration

Doc McGoo

Is it possible St. Patrick's got his eye on the State House? Seems unlikely, but I'm just saying.

Haik Bedrosian

I have nothing to do with the decision to authorize the use of force or fund it. Members of Congress do.

Jim Douglas is correct.

I have never heard him be a cheerleader for the war, and his office has no authority over the situation. He could pile on criticism like everyone else- but it's not his style and it wouldn't do any good anyway.

You don't elect a dog catcher because he agrees with you about abortion. You elect him because he's good at catching dogs. If I wanted some pundant who would opine about the war for a governor, I'd have voted for John McLaughlin.

Once again Peter got served. Sorry Peter.


Agreed. Peter seems absolutely obsessively driven to "catch" or embarass Douglas by asking blatant questions that he would never ask of a Leftie. And he always comes up empty-handed. It wouldn't be so bad if he did the same thing, say, with Bernie. But he doesn't.


Boredrosian and vermonter need to get a room and slobber all over one another. "Got served." Oooh Haik, you're so ghetto. Oh vermonter, your "empty-handed" reply was such a stinger. Enjoy living in the minority you two.


Cowmilker, thanks for your positive and substantive contribution to the issue of how a journalist chooses to handle interviews with people on different sides of the political spectrum. I'm sure we all learned a lot from your helpful comments.

And it's really good to know that one can deviate from the "cheerleaders for Peter" party line on this blog and still be respected.



Leahy: Ask [Jim Douglas] what he says when he goes to the Republican Governors Association...


What does he say at the RGA?

Douglas spiked Leahy's set. It looks like Leahy is not used to opposition. It appears that Douglas is politically honed, seeing opposition every day.

But then there's that nagging question. What does Douglas say at the RGA?


Haik Bedrosian


Man, that's awesome. That's when you know you've "made it" as a shempy local blogger- when somebody does something clever like that with your name.

Thanks CowMilker!

PS- I didn't learn "got served" in the ghetto at all. I learned it from some boys at Colchester Middle School. They were pretending to be ghetto.

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