October 26th, 2006

TO: Rainvillians RE: Interview Clusterf%!#

by Philip Baruth

To: Rainville camp
From: VDB
RE: Interview Clusterf%!#

Dear Rainvillians,

Long time no speak. Look, don’t feel bad about the interview that never was. We realize that Martha needs to be comfortable with the questions, and the questioner — and maybe even the feel of the comfy chairs in the room — before she’s going to sit down and go mano a mano with an interviewer.

martha hearts georgeEspecially an interviewer on steroids, like VDB.

Of course, Peter Welch sat down and answered a series of no-wiggle questions with a series of no-wiggle answers.

(BTW, have you guys ever read that sit-down? If not, it’s right here, and it’ll maybe give you some clear insights into where Welch stood in December, which is to say where he stands currently — yes on withdrawal, no on permanent basing, yes on 86-ing Big Don Rumsfeld.)

Okay, full disclosure: we were a smidgin disappointed when you guys cancelled the interview we’d spent a few months discussing. If we’d known that our coverage of the Barbara Bush event was going to queer the deal, we’d have — well, we’d have still savaged her in the post, of course.

Who knew that a piece with such an unassuming title (VDB’s Lurid and Shocking Confession: “I Hooked Up With Barbara Bush at the Sheraton Hotel — On My Lunch Hour!”) would turn out to be problematic.

But at least we would have known up front that ranking on Babs meant the death of an interview we had come to look forward to as an early Christmas.

For instance, here was the first question (and btw, if Martha’s still up for answering just this one, we’re still totally into printing her response):

Q #1: In our discussions about this interview with some of your staffers, one of them remarked that it made sense to do the interview only after the Republican primary, when it would be increasingly important to reach out to the “Democratic dinner-party set.”

So we’re curious: what do you and your people imagine being served at this dinner party? Mostly we’re looking for the entree, but feel free to range over appetizers or desserts if that comes first to mind.

Now we’ll never have the opportunity to ask this question. But hey, whatever.

And to show that we don’t hold a grudge, here’s a bit of free political advice. As it stands, the election is all about change, locally and nationally. Candidates are being judged on their ability to deliver real change — as opposed to the sort of illusion of change people try to project two days into a month-long rehab program.

When asked about change, Peter Welch says, “If we don’t change Republican leadership in Congress, there will be no change.”

2006 Readers Choice AwardBut you’ve got Martha saying, “Changing leaders won’t change the fundamental ways Congress does business.”

Now, seriously, which of these nuggets would you be running on if the world were your oyster?

Right, Welch’s nugget. Because what you’ve got Martha saying is a negative, and a nonsensical negative to boot. She’s talking about how giving Hastert and Boehner and Blunt the heave-ho just won’t help. In other words, she’s not talking about change, but the futility involved with trying.

And who likes futility in their candidate? Right.

Not to mention that the Speaker of the House has vast power to reform his caucus. So you’ve got her sounding like a defeatist, and you’ve got her saying what Swift liked to call the thing which is not.

What to do? Look it’s tough, but you’ve got to bite the bullet: replace all of her position papers with Welch’s. Should only take a day or two, and you’ve already got the “Site Under Construction” graphic for the web site from the last time you swapped the white papers out.

And the next time you debate, have Martha give his answers before Welch himself gets a chance. It’s beautiful. It’s clean. A total shift right into his place of strength.

Sure, you might get a reporter here or there that yaps a bit about her shifting on every single position. But then you just brazen it out. You have Martha look the guy right in the eye and say, “Change is good.” Because it is.

Okay, babe, that’s about it. And if you change your mind about the interview, we’re all over it. Ciao.

Late Update, 11:01 am:

A sharp-eyed and well-traveled reader writes in this morning to say, “We were on the 6:20AM USAir flight to National Airport on Friday 10/20, and Martha Rainville was a fellow passenger. We thought it extremely odd that she would be in DC instead of campaigning in Vermont just two weeks before the election. Things that make you go hmmm!

Hmmm, indeed. But then, when the big boys have pumped a cool $700,000 into your “independent” bid, sometimes they do need a little hand-holding. Especially when the polls begin to droop.