- The Washington Times - Monday, February 28, 2005

‘Feel it creeping’

Leave it to Vermont to offer a public referendum on the Iraq war.

In 52 towns, residents vote today on a resolution that asks President Bush to withdraw troops from Iraq and urges state leaders to reconsider sending local National Guard troops to war. Fourteen Vermont soldiers have died in the Iraq conflict.

There has been other anti-war posturing: In Brattleboro, town officials recently eliminated the phrase “Freedom is not free” from a bridge dedicated to a fallen soldier because it sounded “jingoistic.”

“This resolution has prompted the kind of constructive debate that should be happening not only in Washington, but in every community in the country, and Vermonters again are setting a good example of civic responsibility and participation,” noted Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, a Democrat.

Organizers hope the issue will add piquancy to scores of town meetings.

“The timing is pretty special because there is a real concern about the war that is growing. You can feel it creeping,” said Ben Scotch of Montpelier told the Boston Globe.

Some say national referendums and town ballots don’t mix.

“These things are all good now and again,” said Frank Bryan, a political scientist at the University of Vermont. “But there is the risk of people using town meetings for whatever particular interest they might have.”

Grover’s neverland

Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee yesterday took on fellow Republican and anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist.

Mr. Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, has criticized Mr. Huckabee for signing a sales-tax increase, though Mr. Huckabee said he was only responding to a court order to put more money into the state’s schools.

“Grover’s never been in government, doesn’t have to balance a state budget, never had a state constitution forcing him to deal with a balanced budget,” Mr. Huckabee said at a meeting with editors and reporters from The Washington Times.

“Grover’s never been in a situation where he couldn’t borrow money so he didn’t have to raise taxes or tell old people he’s just going to take them out of the nursing home and drop them on the curb,” he continued.

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