February 3rd, 2006

Ending Rainville’s “Uniform Code of Silence”

by Philip Baruth

Peter Welch has made a practice thus far of issuing long, detailed press releases and draft policy statements on a wide range of issues: US torture, health care, you name it.

Each time he’s done so, the media has dutifully given equal time to a woman who repeatedly insists, through a campaign spokesperson, that she is not running for the US House and therefore cannot answer the question.

This is done, VDB can only presume, in the name of journalistic ethics: if you offer time to someone who is a candidate for elective office, you are ethics-bound to offer equal time to someone who isn’t.

But that raises another thorny question.

Welch put out a detailed press release yesterday on the efforts of House Republicans to fig-leaf their corruption problems by electing John Boehner and shafting Roy Blunt.

So here’s the question that needs asking above all others: How many Vermont journalists immediately contacted Mark Shepard (R-Bennington) for his campaign’s response on the House leadership vote?

I’d be willing to bet you could count it out on your thumbs. Not using your leftie.

And that gets to the heart of the media’s culpability on Rainville’s “Uniform Code of Silence” (I’m in uniform, I will remain silent on the issues, as you the media remain silent on my silence): it’s not just that the media continues to inflate the campaign of a woman who has insisted for long months she’s not running — it’s that they methodically and continually ignore an elected and respected State Representative who says he is, and openly so.

So if you’ve wondered even once when Rainville will announce, here’s the simple answer: when she and her spokespeople pick up the Burlington Free Press, or turn on WCAX, and see Shepard’s campaign treated as the only announced opposition to Peter Welch for Vermont’s Congressional seat.

That’s what it will take. Not articles grumbling about why Rainville won’t announce, or wondering when will Rainville announce, or whether she’ll wear her uniform until she announces. But articles on the race made conspicious by the absence of Rainville’s name.

A VDB Rainvillian prophecy: On the third day in which the name Rainville remains unspoken in the shadow of the Green Mountains, the charm will be cast, the uniform will be removed, and something unaccountable will appear — a woman of relatively little experience with public policy, operating uncertainly and tentatively outside the bounds of self-imposed silence.

Late Update, 9:50 am:

The Valley News belatedly straps on a pair of pretty big brass balls:

“It is becoming ever clearer why Martha Rainville needs that congressional exploratory committee she formed last fall: Vermont’s adjutant general is lost in an ethical swamp without a moral compass.”

And this:

“It appears to us as though Rainville would like to have it both ways: to raise money and build support for a political campaign while enjoying the luxury of holding a military rank that she contends prevents her from speaking out on the issues. This is not an honorable course of action, and it threatens to tarnish her service as adjutant general, which by most accounts has been excellent.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself. You go, Valley News.

21 Responses to ' Ending Rainville’s “Uniform Code of Silence” '

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    […] In the first days of February, we predicted that once Rainville finally made up her mind about a run for Congress, “the uniform will be removed, and something unaccountable will appear — a woman of relatively little experience with public policy, operating uncertainly and tentatively outside the bounds of self-imposed silence.” […]

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