Douglas at the Debate: Bush Connection

Dear Editor,

I recently saw Jim Douglas and Peter Clavelle engage each other in debate in Bennington. I must say I was impressed with Clavelle’s vision for Vermont and how he methodically deconstructed Douglas’ record in this state.

Clavelle outlined clearly and passionately his methods by which he would fight for health care, renewable energy sources, 21st century jobs, and reducing the correctional facilities crisis while increasing the budget for higher education and funding public schools.

Douglas, on the other hand, was enervating as he addressed these same issues. During his term, the pace towards rectifying these problems-particularly health care-has been glacial at its fastest. Last night, Clavelle secured my vote. He is definitely someone who can energize Vermont in the 21st century. He declared he wants to help us lead this nation and I believe him.

My misgiving about Douglas definitely comes from his assertion that he is a “moderate” Republican who traces his lineage to George Aiken and Bob Stafford. In the debate he was questioned on his connection to Bush, and Douglas retorted he would think of Vermont’s interests first. The questioner pointed out that Vermont is now suing the current administration on their policies on environment and the FDA on drug choices. In addition, the war on Iraq has drained resources making it that much harder to fund social services in our state.

During this discussion, Clavelle cited Jim Jeffords as someone who was also a moderate Republican but who did not like what his party had become. Jeffords had the perspicacity and courage to look in his conscience and become an independent. Something tells me if push comes to shove that Douglas would take a party line first.

My question is how does Douglas reconcile his association with Bush and that ideology with his claims of being moderate. This current administration has done more to polarize the nation and the world than any other previous one and this is the administration Douglas is associated with. Bush’s current political ad campaign denounces Kerry and his “liberal” allies” and stirs up fear and hate in Americans. This sort of inflammatory rhetoric is not what a “moderate” Republican Party is about. Even Dwight Eisenhower’s son recently came out with a scathing letter declaring how he could not support this current administration and how far they have deviated from his father’s party.

All this being said, our responsibility as Vermonters-as thoughtful Republicans and Democrats and Independents-is to weigh the candidates. Clavelle is about being true to his convictions and in leading a fair administration that looks out for the interests of the people of Vermont. Jim Douglas may claim to be fair and moderate, but in the long run he has set his flag in Bush’s camp and that should resonate with all of us as to where his heart really stands.

Let’s see change everywhere this November 2nd, especially with our governor.

Thank you

Bret Chenkin 91’Bennington, Vermont