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Political notes from Free Press staff writers Terri Hallenbeck, Sam Hemingway and Nancy Remsen



Outsider ad

The Center for Security Policy, a Washington, DC, group with a mission to "promote peace through strength," will air a television advertisement in Vermont this weekend that opens with scenes of the smoking twin towers in New York and ends with the advice, "Vote this November as if your life depends on it because it really does."

The ad doesn’t name any candidates, but is being aired here and in five other states because the debate about the war has figured prominently in political debates, according to Frank Gaffney Jr., president and CEO of the Center.

At the Center’s Web site, the ad is promoted as follows:

"In a democracy like ours, an uninformed electorate can make decisions that are far-reaching and potentially quite dangerous.

"Against this backdrop and as a public service, the Center for Security Policy today unveiled a television ad campaign aimed at explaining in no uncertain terms the nature and stakes of the conflict we are waging around the world against an Islamofascist enemy bent on our destruction.

"The ad, which can be viewed by clicking here, observes that in this War for the Free World, the United States simply cannot afford to follow the advice of war critics who would have us cut-and-run. It points out that steps such as a withdrawing prematurely from Iraq and/or closing the U.S. facility for detaining terrorists at Guantanamo Bay would unambiguously convey weakness to our enemies, resulting only in more bloodshed abroad and quite possibly renewed attacks against the U.S. homeland."

Gaffney was assistant secretary of defense for international security policy in the Reagan administration. He founded the Center for Security Policy in 1988.

An e-mail promoting the advertisement said the ad was running "in six key political markets around the country, including you up there in Burlington, VT because of the Jeffords Senate race."

Sen. Jim Jeffords, I-VT, isn’t running for re-election, of course, but his retirement has sparked a hot race. Rep. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, wants to move from the House to the Senate. Three Republicans are battling for the chance to face Sanders on the November ballot. Democrats are backing Sanders.

It is a coincidence the ad runs just days before Vermont’s primary election, Gaffney said.

Among the Republican primary candidates, the two candidates who have invested the most in their campaigns — Rich Tarrant and Greg Parke — disagree about what should happen next in Iraq. Tarrant has said it’s time for the U.S. to re-deploy its troops and let the Iraqi Army take over, while Parke has argued that announcing a timetable for withdrawal concedes defeat.

The Center’s ad has a Parke-friendly message, but Parke said Friday, "I haven’t been in communication with them whatsoever."

Parke noted, however, that the message, as described to him, "obviously isn’t going to hurt me."

Tim Lennon, Tarrant’s campaign manager, said, "Our position is third party groups should stay out of Vermont and this campaign."

-- Nancy Remsen

Tarrant cancelled a Red Cross Blood Drive. Instead of talking about Iraq, how about talking about Tarrant's action to stop his employees from donating blood?

Check out the information about Tarrant cancelling a Red Cross Blood Drive.
Vermont seems like a relatively educated state to me, having only moved here a few years ago, so I really don't think an ad insinuating that the war in Iraq is winning the war on terror will have very much of an impact. Anyone who still thinks that US action in Iraq actually did anything to deter or destroy terrorists has either had a lobotomy, or should seriously consider one.

On the other hand, the tension between ethnic and religious groups in Iraq is a reality, and there is a danger of escalated conflict between those groups if the US pulls out its troops, especially since the Iraqi army and police force are horrendously bad at what they do compared to American troops.

And while we're talking about it, the idea that US signs of "weakness" or "strength" has any bearing on what genuine terrorists decide to do or not do is laughable - these people believe they are heaven-bound martyrs carrying out God's work. Who cares if the country whose citizens they're killing appears to be weak or strong? It's God's will either way! But anyway, I think Vermont as a whole is smarter than that.
Gaffney is a political hack. For them to spend that kind of money here is neither a coincidence, nor an accident. It's on purpose. And the fact that Greg Parke's political future ended tonight in spite of these bastards is cause for celebration.
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