by Peter Freyne
Let's think of it as a Christmas present. A Pearl Harbor Day reality-check. The perfect holiday gift in these troubled high-tech, wireless times. I'm talking about the eagerly awaited "Iraq Study Group Report."
It's been a long, long time since America, as a nation, has publicly swallowed such a large dose of truth in one sitting. The lede on The Washington Post analysis piece pretty much nailed it:
"The Iraq Study Group report, released yesterday, might well be titled "The Realist Manifesto."
From the very first page, in which co-chairmen James A. Baker III and Lee H. Hamilton scold that "our leaders must be candid and forthright with the American people," the bipartisan report is nothing less than a repudiation of the Bush administration's diplomatic and military approach to Iraq and to the whole region.
Is not the tide turning, folks?
Yet, by way of dramatic political irony, while the Iraq report was being released down in DC, the governor of Vermont was back to being his old self on Wednesday - holding a "regular weekly press conference" on the Fifth Floor in Montpeculiar. The jovial Republican was in especially good spirits. After all, Gentleman Jim Douglas has just won reelection by a 15-point landslide in America's rather unique little Leftists Land of Democrat Howard Dean, national chairman of his rival party, and Independent Bernie Sanders, currently making history as the first socialist ever elected to the United States Senate.
Not bad, eh? For Jim the Republican, that is.
Standing before the thin line that is the Vermont press and batting away questions about the property tax and rising education costs without offering a concrete solution/plan is an art that none perform better than James Douglas of Middlebury, Vermont. And, sure, he cares about global warming, but what were voters telling him on the fall campaign trail?
"To be perfectly honest, I think we all heard a lot more about property taxes than global warming."
Nonetheless, the Guv calmed us down, saying, "Vermont can continue to provide leadership on environmental policy." Besides, he quickly noted, more global-warming impacting power plants power plants are being built in China. "The fact is," said Gov. Scissorhands, "[global warming] is beyond the ability of Vermont to contain."
Did he not just wash his hands of it?
Back to the other "Big Ugly" of the first decade of the 21st Century - the Bush-Cheney War in Iraq, the one our Vermont delegation unanimously and wisely voted "No" on, but ended up our war, anyway. And back to the fact Gov. Jim Douglas has supported the Bush-Cheney Team and this war from the get-go. Nonetheless, It has never harmed him politically at the ballot box. That is no doubt attributable to Gentleman Jim's exceptional talent, as well as the apparent lack thereof exhibited by his Democratic opponents in 2002, 2004 and 2006.
Just last March, Gov. Douglas visited the Iraq War Zone as a guest of the White House and came home singing the praises of what he described as the successful operation that was underway there. Not one word of criticism was uttered.
At yesterday's presser in the state capital, we asked the Guv if he agreed that the recent resignations of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and U.N. Ambassador John Bolton were "good moves?"
“Well, that’s the call the president needs to make. Every executive needs the team on the field that he or she feels comfortable with, so that’s where the buck stops and he needs to get the people he feels will best do the job.”
Smooth, eh? Nobody, we'd argue, does it better in the Green Mountains. But has our Guv changed his view on this war?
“Well, I’ve said for some time that we need an exit strategy. Vermonters and others have answered the call to serve and put their lives on the line, in some cases paid with their lives, to serve our country and they deserve to know that there’s a clear objective and an end in sight to our involvement. The secretary designate said we can’t set a date, but we do need to have a strategy that will move us toward a redeployment of our troops."
But is Vermont's governor ready to say what Vermont's congressional delegation of Patrick Leahy, Jim Jeffords and Bernie Sanders have been saying loud-and-clear or years: this war is "a mistake?"
"Well, history will judge ultimately decisions that have been made in this context and it’s ultimate outcome. I think most Vermonters, most Americans, want to find a way out at this point."
I think that was a "No" to the question about the Iraq War being a mistake, don't you?
Nobody does it better.