by Peter Freyne
*Update 5:30 p.m.*
And a must-read frontpager in Friday’s Rutland Herald/Times Argus:
Foes of forest bill pressured Douglas
October 6, 2006
By Louis Porter Vermont Press Bureau
MONTPELIER - Internal documents and correspondence reveal that powerful industry groups and advocates of "traditional" land uses such as logging put substantial pressure on the administration of Gov. James Douglas to oppose the federal bill expanding the wilderness area within the Green Mountain National Forest.
October sure came in with a bang on the politics front in Vermont, didn't it?
Just ask rookie political candidate Martha Rainville, the Vermont Republican Party's star maiden horse in the U.S. House race.
Since she defeated Adj. Gen. Don Edwards, the incumbent, in the Vermont Legislature’s 1997 Statehouse election, Gerneralissima Rainville has performed well on the military stage. But it is a rather limited stage with a much narrower issue-focus that that of a United States congressman. (In fact, I just called the office of the current adjutant general - Mike Dubie, brother of Brian - to double-check how many folks are actually in the Vt. Guard. Apparently, the general's secretary didn't know.Got bumped to the information officer's answering machine.)
After the story broke on Professor Julie Waters' blog - Reason and Brimstone - last weekend about plagiarism infecting Martha Rainville’s campaign website, a Vermont voter might reasonably wonder why no warning lights went off? Not one?
Why a policy position of a Democrat like Hillary Clinton sounded kosher to Republican Rainville?
The Pulitzer Prize winning editorial pages of the Rutland Herald and the Times Argus hit the nail on the head - a must read, folks.
The damage to Rainville comes in two ways. First, she has based her campaign on the idea that she will bring higher ethical standards to Congress. For her staff to steal language from other politicians undermines that claim. Second, the action underscores the contention that Rainville, who is new to politics, is also new to the issues and her record is so thin that it consists of other people's words.
And it gets worse, folks.
I was just checking Martha’s allegedly corrected campaign website. The mistakes are supposed to be fixed, but Blogger Waters, the CCV prof, is still finding examples of the P-word, i.e. plagiarism. Unbelievable!
And just as concerning is some of the Rainville content. Look, I've been covering Vermont elections since 1980. I remember how major party candidates - especially non-incumbents - held weekly pressers on different important issues. One week was environment, another foreign policy, another agriculture etc. My colleagues and I grilled them good with the questions that had to be asked. And voters could learn a candidate's position clearly without all the "spin" and "make believe" that dominates the game in our 21st Century.
Rainville's issue-content raises questions about just how up-to-speed the candidate is. Just take the the No.1 issue of the day - the U.S. War in Iraq. This is Martha's Iraq view as of today:
"Over the last three years, the Iraqi people have taken tremendous steps towards a democratic, stable and free Iraq. As the Iraqis continue to increase their capacity to secure their own country and defeat the terrorists, American troops will continue to withdraw."
"Tremendous steps" toward a "stable" Iraq?" "Continue to withdraw?"
What planet is she on?
Here are a couple Associated Press news-story leads from the present. Makes one wonder if this GOP congressional candidate ever picks up a newspaper or watches CNN?
Former general says Iraq a 'debacle'
October 5, 2006
By Anne Plummer Flaherty Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Gen. James L. Jones, once the Marine Corps' top general, did not deny reports in a new book that he told a colleague Iraq was a debacle and that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had emasculated the service chiefs.
Leading Republican casts dismal view of Iraq
October 6, 2006
By Anne Plumer Flaherty Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Sen. John Warner on Thursday offered his darkest assessment yet of Iraq, saying the war there was "drifting sideways" without a commitment from its government to disarm militias.
Warner, a Republican and Bush loyalist, made his comments to reporters upon returning from a recent trip to the region.
He said the military had done what it could and that Congress must make some "bold decisions" if, after three months, progress is not made by the Iraqis to calm ethnic violence and hasten reconstruction.
Warner did not say what he thinks Congress should do, but added all options will be considered. Lawmakers have suggested various remedies, including setting a timetable to pull out U.S. troops and dividing the country into smaller independent ethnic states.
Candidate Rainville might want to rethink her Iraq position, eh?
Or at least pick up a damn newspaper and read it!
*UPDATE 1* 5:30 p.m.
Just got home from a Montpelier document run and taping "Vermont This Week" at Vermont Public Television in Colchester. Mark Johnson filled in for Chris Graff as host. Darren Allen, Vermont Press Bureau chief (Rutland Herald/Times Argus), and Nancy Remsen, Freeps' Capital Bureau chief (though the paper closed it's Montpelier bureau a few months ago), and yours truly. Check it out at 7:30. A few hot topics.
Capt. John Geno from the Vernont National Guard was on my answering machine. The population of the Vermont Guard, he said, is 3500. (I thought it was over 4000 - glad I called.)
Thank you, sir!
Now we know the size diffference. General Martha was responsible for 3500 people. She now seeks another elected position that would make her responsible, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, for an estimated 623,050.
Not saying she isn't capable. She's very talented. Just noting that it is a much, much bigger picture.
The guy she's running against, Democrat Peter Welch, has had experience running the Vermont Senate and getting budgets and laws passed.
Welch also supported the federal Wilderness Bill that the entire Vermont congressional delegation strongly supported.
Rainville opposed it. Most of us just learned that this week. She never put out a press release or held a press conference on it. But it turns out, she was very, very against it. In fact, her side put enough heat on GOP Gov. Jim Douglas to get him to at least get the House GOP leadership to shrink the size of the Vermont wilderness parcel by 6000 acres.
Unfortunately, because of that move, we do not have the new Wilderness legislation Sen. Jim Jeffords worked so hard on. At the last minute before adjournment last week, the bill passed the Senate again, but did not make it to the House floor. There'll be a token session between Election Day and Christmas. Nothing is guaranteed about it being taken up. The Vermont Wilderness bill is truly in limbo.
However, we do know that if it doesn't pass in the token session and Marvelous Martha beats Peter Welch on November 7, Vermont's lone congressman will not be supporting the bill next year. That makes it D.O.A. - dead on arrival.
It'd make a good commercial, don't you think?
"Vermont has too much wilderness already. Trees, after all, are for cutting and burning and mulching, not for hugging. I'm Martha Rainville and I approved this messsage."