Is Jim Douglas Trying to Blow This? | Freyne Land
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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Is Jim Douglas Trying to Blow This?

Posted By on Sat, Sep 23, 2006 at 12:35 PM

*Please note - 2 updates and links added at 5 p.m. Saturday*

Holy mackerel!

click to enlarge vermont_jim_douglas.jpg

No one could possibly have predicted this: that two-term GOP Gov. Jim “Scissorhands” Douglas - a fellow with more than 30 years in some kind of paying political office, would suddenly risk what had appeared his most assured reelection to a third term on November 7 over that Democratic challenger - the ex-minister and renewable energy whiz...whatshisname?

Oh, yeah, Scudder Parker - the only major party candidate for governor since I got here (1979),  who actually grew up on a Vermont dairy farm.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, imagined Gov. Douglas would suddenly publicly align himself with Rep. Rich Pombo, one of the most right-wing, ethically-challenged and anti-environment Republican committee chairman in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Chairman Pombo represents the 11th District of California. It’s near Stockton.

This week, Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas wrote his fellow Republican an absolutely shocking-by-Vermont-standards letter. In it Douglas expresses his “concern” about the pending New England Wilderness Act.  In fact, it’s a very blatant attempt to give Pombo some local cover to kill the Wilderness Act in the House, even though it passed the Republican Senate unanimously after five years of extensive research and public hearings by the U.S. Forest Service.

Our Gov. Jimbo is reaching out to Chairman Pombo to derail a Wilderness Act that will protect Vermont and New Hampshire for our kids and their kids and their kids? Very strange.

So who is Pombo, the new friend of Vermont's governor? The anti-environment committee chairman hasn’t exactly been a household word in Vermont.

"Mr. Pombo's only idea [selling public lands], and it is a terrible one, is to treat this nation the way he treats his Congressional district, as if it were ripe for exploitation." ---The New York Times, 10/30/05

"If there were something called the dangerous species list, Richard Pombo would be on it. He's the misguided California congressman who wants to take a meat ax to the Endangered Species Act." ---Charlotte Observer, 9/29/05

"a virulently anti-environmental congressman" ---St. Petersburg Times, 10/26/05

"Pombo has shown that he's willing to sacrifice our public lands rather than be a steward of them." ---Modesto Bee, 9/28/05

Today, Vermont’s editorial pages had the same view of Chairman Pombo and his new link to

pombo01.jpg
the governor of Vermont.

Our Pulitzer Prize winning Rutland Herald published an editorial titled “Wild Politics” :

"In writing the letter to Pombo, Douglas may have been seeking to please the special interests who have opposed new wilderness in Vermont, mainly loggers and sportsmen's groups. But if the bill runs aground among the anti-environmental Republicans of the House, Douglas will have to answer to the vast majority of Vermonters who were pleased to see the Senate advance a plan to set aside wild lands in Vermont forever."

And even the Gannett-chain’s Burlington Free Press editorial was on the same page:

"Ultimately, this is about the future. It is about protecting the land for our children and the children who come after them.

The Green Mountain National Forest, a swath from Addison County to the Vermont-Massachusetts border, represents just 6 percent of the state's total land, but it looms large in the imaginations of Vermonters and many of the 70 million other Americans who live within a day's drive of it.

Let's protect this great natural resource. Let's allow some of it to just be wild, without our all-terrain vehicles and trucks and general human intrusions."

But we’d suggest that the wisest words of the morning came from an old Capitol Hill source who sent us this insightful email:

“Nice to see [Douglas] got hammered in today’s edits, but my guess is that the Pombo letter idea came from the nasties. I would think the last guy Douglas would want a favor from (sure to be known publicly) is Pombo. Parker should put an ad up tomorrow linking Douglas with Pombo and it would be over. 

Frankly, we were more than a little surprised Ol’ Scudder, Douglas' Democrat opponent, didn’t

scudder2.jpg
call a presser on Friday to highlight all this.

Strange.

And it’s reflected , we’d suggest, in the fact the WCAX Poll (Douglas 53 - Parker 38) found 38 percent had "no opinion" of Scudder Parker - probably because they do not know who the hell he is! Hey, Scudder, it's called "free media."

Of those who knew of Scudder, he was viewed favorably by a 2-1 margin (40-22).

Douglas, meanwhile, was 53 percent favorable and 43 percent unfavorable.

Very interesting.

************************************************

*UPDATE 1*

For the most part, the Freyne Brain is only able to wrap itself around Vermont's political world and that of my beloved United States of America.

So I've been reading up on the guy my governor wants a pre-election favor from. This Salon piece by Michael Scherer titled "The Pombo Mombo" is quite informative - you've just got to view their damn ad to read the whole thing (and all of Salon).

*************************************************************************************************

**Update 2**

Did a spin around Burlap on the two-wheeler. Farmer's Market downtown, Church Street Marketplace, Old North End, Hill Section, UVM and down Spear Street and around behind Pizzagalli and WCAX-TV to Shaw's for the salad bar! You know, the one without the stools to sit on?

Maybe that's why the most frequent personal question I get these days is: "Hey, Peter, have you lost a lot of weight or what?"

Nice question to be getting, eh?

The rain held off - it's was nice. Two basic comments stood apart and I heard them from people I've known for years and readers who know me from "Inside Track" and wanted to say hello and share something that was really bugging them:

1. "Look, I've voted Republican in the past, but I am sick and tired of those Tarrant ads. They insult my intelligence!" 

2. "What was Jim Douglas thinking when he suddenly comes out against the entire Vermont congressional delegation on the Wilderness Act at the last minute?  Just before the election, too."

Thanks, folks, for sharing. Nice to chat.

 

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About The Author

Peter Freyne

Peter Freyne

Bio:
Peter Freyne, 1949-2009, wrote the weekly political column "Inside Track," which originated in the Vanguard Press in the mid 1980s; he brought it to Seven Days in 1995. He retired it shortly before his death in January, 2009. We all miss him.

More by Peter Freyne

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