by Peter Freyne
That's what following in the footsteps of Vermont's Republican Gov. Jim Douglas looked like about 1 p.m. today as he confidently strode into his large State House ceremonial office to face off with the press corps for about 45 minutes.
Piece of cake.
Nobody does it better. On message and supremely careful not to say that which he does not wish to say.
Oh, and that's Chief of Staff Tim Hayward to the Boss' left. Tim's been an in-the-trenches, behind-the-scenes Montpelier-type most of his political career. Hayward was a Marine Corps captain before getting a dude named Jim Jeffords elected to Congress in 1974. Subsequently, Tim was a right-hand man to the one-and-only King Richard, Earl of Shelburne, also known as Gov. Dick Snelling (before he dicks you!).
Since those Snelling days that faded away in the mid-1980s, Ol' Tim been with the Vermont Bankers Association, their Statehouse lobbyist and recent president. He knows the game only too well and, it shows. Even brings a bag lunch to work. Hey, in his third term running a Republican administration in liberal/progressive Vermont.
In Washington the showdown of the day is between Vermont's Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and President George "WMD" Bush. Leahy wants Karl Rove and other White House aides to testify under oath regarding the firings of eight U.S. Attorneys for political reasons - like who they prosecuted and who they didn't.
President Bush says "No way."
The Emperor obviously lacks access to a mirror.
At today's presser we asked Gov. Scissorhands about the matter.
Press: “Obviously, you’re one of the leading Republicans in New England. I wondered if you agreed with Republican Sen. Sununu of New Hampshire who has already come out saying it’d be best if Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez resigned. Where are you on that?”
Gov. Douglas: “Well, I’m very concerned about the politicizing of United States Attorneys Offices. That’s inappropriate. We have to have federal prosecutors, just as we need state prosecutors, who are doing their jobs enforcing the law, seeking justice, not being subject to political interference. I feel very strongly about that. I think it’s appropriate for the Congress to ask questions and to get some honest answers about what happened. I think we should let that process play itself out before, ah, before joining that kind of call.”
Press: “Do you believe there has been apparent lying. It’s been pretty well documented."
Gov. Douglas: "Well, I don’t think we should jump to conclusions. I think it’s appropriate for Congress to get the information.”
Press: “Do you think Karl Rove should have to testify under subpoena (i.e. under oath)?
Gov. Douglas: “Well, I don’t know what the right method is, but the Congress is entitled to get some honest answers.”
Press: “But you won’t say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ about whether he should have to appear under a subpoena?”
Gov. Douglas: “Well, I guess I’m not going to get into that much detail.”
As St. Patrick and nine other Democrats on the Judiciary Committee wrote in a letter to WH Council Fred Fielding on Thursday:
"Despite the initial White House statements to the contrary, it is now apparent that White House officials were deeply involved in the planning and execution of the firings, the consideration of replacements, and the subsequent misleading explanations from Justice officials."