I can't remember the date or all the specifics, but one of my strongest memories of Peter Freyne was one particular news conference in the governor's Statehouse office.
Freyne always asked the odd questions. Did the governor think the U.S. should pull out of Iraq?
What did the governor think of George W. Bush's work in the White House? What was the one thing the governor wanted to tell the people of Vermont?
Gov. Jim Douglas deflected many of the questions. But on this occasion, there was something about Freyne's questioning that particularly got under Douglas' skin. In frustration, he accused all of us at the table of carrying water for the Democrats. He was uncharacteristically flustered, angry, out of control.
Those who had covered former Gov. Howard Dean said it was reminiscent of his famous vein-popping moments.
Douglas' accusation only angered the rest of us, which only fueled the fire. It ended so badly that an hour or so later Douglas spokesman Jason Gibbs came through the Statehouse looking for us. The governor wanted to meet with us again and apologize. Which he did, uncharacteristically.
Freyne's questions _ frequently irreverent and off-point _ had a way of throwing the subject off kilter. Many a time you could see the smoke coming out of the ears of Douglas or House Speaker Gaye Symington. Many a time I had no idea how one might begin to answer the question being asked.
Once Freyne was gone, I think even Symington sort of missed Freyne's questions. "Madame speaker, if there were one thing you'd like to tell Vermonters ...."
"Well, Peter, there's not just one thing ..."
Well, Peter, if there's just one thing to say to you, I guess it would be, rest easy.
- Terri Hallenbeck