August 23rd, 2007
08:55 AM ET
16 years ago

President Bush's forgotten state?

Watch CNN's John King report on Bush's forgotten state.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Vermont is a picture perfect place - its rivers and mountains and covered bridges are a draw to some 10 million visitors a year.

Yet, the Green Mountain State is the forgotten place in the crowded travelogue of President Bush - the only state he has failed to visit in his presidency.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders - a self described socialist - is a fierce Bush critic whether the issue is the Iraq war, the economy, or climate change. Callers to his office, Sanders says, often demand that the president be impeached.

But Sanders all but dares Bush to visit, saying he would benefit from sitting down with his critics. His Senate Web site even displays a banner with the headline "Bush stays away from Vermont."

"If he comes up in the fall – he can see the changing of the leaves,” Sanders told CNN. “He'll have a good visit.”

"[He] might be able to learn something," he added. "This president will probably go down in history as the least popular president in history of this country - he should go forward and find out why that is so."

But University of Vermont political science professor Garrison Nelson sees no upside in the president paying a visit to Vermonters.

"It is a photo opportunity he does not need," Nelson said. "I cannot imagine any assemblage in the state of Vermont that would give him an unalloyed positive reception."

Bush lost big there in 2000 and again in 2004. The war is enormously unpopular, and the state Senate even adopted a symbolic resolution last April calling for his impeachment.

But it's not all personal, Nelson says.

"When the Republican Party moved South and West, you know towards the sun belt and of course toward Christian conservatism, it lost Vermonters."

Vermont does have a Republican governor, Jim Douglas, but he is a throwback to the moderate breed of Republicanism that once thrived across New England. Douglas notes the first President Bush visited Vermont last among the 50 states, and predicts the son will do the same - despite his low popularity.

"He can take it," Douglas said of a potential Vermont visit. "He has certainly taken a lot of hostility and tough questions and I am sure he can do that here."

But some Vermonters do get to meet the president themselves.

Regina Gilbert traveled to Fort Bragg, North Carolina to meet the president in 2005 –her only child, Kyle, was killed in Iraq on August 6, 2003. Vermont has lost two dozen soldiers in Iraq - the highest in per capita death tolls - more than reason enough Gilbert says for the president to visit.

"He asked me something that surprised me: does it ever get easier?" Gilbert said. "And I just looked at him and looked at my husband and said absolutely not. I said this is a hole in my heart and it is always going to be there."

- CNN Chief National Correspondent John King

Filed under: President Bush • Vermont
soundoff (116 Responses)
  1. Isaac, Louisville, KY

    I think that regardless of approval ratings in Vermont, the President should make at least a token visit before he leaves office. While Bush's presidency hasn't been much of a unifying force in the last few years, he is the President of the United States of America, not merely the United Red States of America.

    That said, I can also see many reasons why it would make sense to only visit near the end of his last term.

    This isn't really what I wanted to comment on, however. My degrees are in political science/international relations, and it is really sickening to me to see how people throw about the 'respect for the Constitution' card. The TRUTH is that only a SUPER-MINORITY of voters have ANY idea what the Constitution says to begin with! Even if they know a bit of what it says, they don't understand what it really means. And even if they understand what a part of it means... they don't understand it as a whole. People quote the Constitution just like they quote the Bible: to suit their purposes.

    We love to blame politicians, corporations, people of other political parties, the media for our problems, but in THIS country, with THIS system, WE are to blame. That's right, it's ALL our fault. Neither Republicans NOR Democrats have any right to self-righteously blame the other. We're all at fault. Since we are all fat and happy, and have everything we need to lead oblivious cattle lives, we are going to sit around, complain a bit from time to time, and wait for a truly enormous disaster before we wake up and take control of our country again.

    What's it going to take? I shudder to think.

    I do have one suggestion, though. It will never be enacted because educated voters are much more difficult to manipulate, but a free class on the Constitution, other founding documents, and our current political system should be offered to all Americans of voting age. ONLY Americans who have taken the class and passed a comprehension test should be allowed to vote. Please note that nothing will be required in the way of agreeing with certain positions on current issues. Perhaps passing the test would grant 10 years of voting ability.

    Regardless, we need to realize it is our own lack of awareness and education, it is our own apathy and bovine contentedness that has allowed the government to get so corrupt and out-of-touch with the people.

    Last note: There are certainly a few aspects of Vermont that would make a Jefferson smile (lots of guns and farmers), but nothing in the Constitution calls for an entitlement state. The founding fathers envisioned a system where independent people came together to form independent states, and independent states came together to form the United States of America. Instead we find ourselves moving in the direction where people routinely (by right in their minds) depend on the state, and the states necessarily depend on the federal government.

    This country was meant to be about independence, personal responsibility, and respect for the individual. It has instead become a country of dependence, profound self-interest, and complete disregard for how one's actions affect others.

    As negative as all that sounds, I hold great hope for our country and the American people. We have certainly been stuck in a rut for decades now... but I think we are tiring of it. As we ultimately, thanks to the Constitution, have the power to change things... they will change when we've finally had enough.

    August 23, 2007 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  2. Brent, Saginaw, MI

    Pres. bush sounds like he forgets a lot of things. he forgot to tell the truth yesterday about the SPP meeting with Harper and Calderon in Canada. it's funny how they act like any talk on a North American Union is nothing but a conspiracy theory by people with tin foil hats on when there are documents that the public can read for themselves (thanks Freedom of Information act) that is contrary to what they want you to hear (liars). of course, most of the country will believe them since the media is in on it, too, and doesn't tell you anything.

    August 23, 2007 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  3. Jon, Burnsville, NC

    I think Vermonters are wise to keep "Shrub" out, as I doubt the moron can even spell Vermont.......

    This must be the most incompetant President we've ever (almost) elected.

    I hope both parties give us wise choices for 2008, and I hope the voters REALLY THINK about it, before pulling the lever.

    Our Country is now ridiculed throuout the world, but could someday stand proud again....

    August 23, 2007 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  4. John - New York, NY

    So Bush has come under attack from a self described socialist...and this is a knock on Bush? Think what you like about Bush. Socialism is not worth the argument. And Vermont's history on protecting its children? Please. I'd love for Vermont to actually secede from the union and take their colored leaves somewhere else. Socialists? Haha. Right.

    August 23, 2007 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  5. Chris Trombly, Burlington VT

    Vermont would openly welcome a visit from President Bush.

    Vermont is proof that a multi-party system works. We have a Democrat and a Socialist/Democrat for our Senators, a Republican Governor and our Legislature has a strong mix of members from the Democratic, Independent, Republican and Progressive parties.

    President Bush believes in his ideals as much as Vermonters believe in theirs. To be able to share our thoughts and concerns with our democratically elected President is an opportunity that many countries are not afforded. But…will President Bush give us that opportunity?

    August 23, 2007 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  6. Rick, Burlington, VT

    Geeze... I moved here 4 years ago, wished it was ten!. Despite jerks like Sanders and some other liberals and such, I feel safe here. No not happy with President Bush and the war, but he is our president and real americans would show respect for him. Here in VT most of us have decent morals and respect. People I do admire? Our State police for not backing down and allowing illegals to come here, pollute our beautiful land and schools with their language, criminals,drugs and gangs. I wish an order of shoot to kill would be enforced to anyone who illegaly crosses our borders! They are a threat to our nation and the future of our children. English as a "second" labguage? Enough is enough. Wake up America and stand up for your rights. The problem is there aren't many TRUE Americans left. The ones that try to speak up and defend our laws are called predjudice and rediculed. What happen to the men and woman that founded this country? (Black and white that stood side by side) (Oh Al Sharpton and Jessee Jackson SHUT UP!.. talk about racists that stir up trouble!!)
    America all around Vermont has gone from the Melting pot to the illegal immigrant cesspool! As an American who legally pays my taxes, works legally for a living and respects our laws... I'm trying hard not to be disgusted with this Nation and the idiots who are ruining it for personal gain!
    In God We Trust and GOD BLESS AMERICA!

    August 23, 2007 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  7. Dan, Bloomington, IL

    A state that harbors more respect for a child molester than our President is a sad state indeed. When will the people of Vermont pick judges who care about children?

    August 23, 2007 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  8. Alyce, Dallas, Texas

    And so why haven't impeachment proceedings started? Are the powers that be that afraid of President Bush.

    August 23, 2007 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Only Clinton was awful enough to deserve impeachment...and was.

    August 23, 2007 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  10. Gina, Burlington, VT

    Bush is a coward! Vermont is one of the most American states in the union and he avoids it completely. His ignorance of non-recognition just further proves his overall incompetence as a president. We Vermonters believe in our freedom of speech and we take advantage of it to that max and it is not something we ashamed of. We are a small state and that is why we sometimes need the dramatic expressions that are so often looked upon negatively by the rest of the country. If we didn't have our protests and petitions covered by the media would the rest of the country have any idea we even existed? The American way nowadays is to sit on your butt and let the world happen to you... but not in our state. As little as we are, we know that if we don't speak up who will? The "Christian High Society" that the southern states claim to be that make them better and ultimately right in every way? Vermont does not label itself as anything other then American. We are a melting pot of all religions, ethnicity's, beliefs and opinions. Because our population is small, we as a state can look each other in the eye with the respect of each others individuality and know that there may be things we don't agree on eye to eye on all levels but knowing the only way to get results for the things we care about as a whole is to work together. We are a shining example of democracy and freedom. We are the people of the United States of America. So I ask you why is it that we are of the few states that is actually united?

    August 23, 2007 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  11. Anne Houston

    Really the question is not about Vermont's citizens, their beliefs, or how stereotypically they are perceived by other takes all sorts, right? And with those sorts you've got the good, the bad and the ugly (to toss in a good ol' cliché) the super-liberal and the ultra-conservative. I think that's something this comment board has demonstrated admirably this afternoon. But let's not think about it in terms of states and their representatives and who did or didn't do what to whom. It's simpler than that. Let's look at it this way: say you're a nighttime nurse in the ICU ward of a hospital. At some point during your shift a part of your job is to visit each patient's room to check on their progress, say hello, and ask if there are any problems or things you could do for them. You're able to check up on all the rooms, but leave one behind, not knowing what sort of patient you'll find inside, and are possibly too burned out to even care? Does that mean you're doing your job? Think about it.

    August 23, 2007 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  12. Mary, Beaver, PA

    So Bush hasn't been to Vermont. So what! It is a beautiful state, and I can hardly wait to see it again. Let's not forget that it was the home state of that great and VERY conservative President Calvin Coolidge.

    Bush-bashers and Vermont-bashers, you need to grow up.

    August 24, 2007 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  13. Dan, Williston, VT

    Good, hope he stays the hell away. I doubt there is more hate for him anywhere else in the country.

    I bet at least 3/4 of the Vermont bashers here have never been and have absolutely no idea what they're talking about. Why don't you come here and see what it's like before you declare it a "communist backwater"?

    August 24, 2007 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  14. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    FMANN ~ San Antonio

    You wrote,

    "I know how much this must hurt. For the past six years I've argued that GW was wrong. Each time I got the same right wing response that somehow tried to compare Clinton's actions with Monica to the reason why we can't find WMD."

    – – – – – – –

    FMann (Home State of President Bush),

    From what you've shared – you're an angry anti-war protestor who thought electing a Democratically controlled congress would yield impeachment and our troops magically returned?

    I would be angry too if I bought into the "hype" sold to you by your partisan leaders.

    Couple of points:

    1) Some of the reason we entered Iraq SEEMS to be based on faulty information (WMDs). We KNEW Saddam had them and was willing to use them (gassing the kurds). We KNEW Saddam was a brutal dictator and middle-eastern thug (invaded Kuwait). And we KNEW he was not fully complying with 11 UN resolutions. The fact is – we had good reasons to remove Saddam.

    2) The Administration did not have a good game-plan for AFTER Saddam was removed, I agree. Our generals and soldiers are sincerely making the best effort to secure the country and give the people the chance to create a representative government.

    3) We ALL want the soldiers home. The difference is many of us think we need to leave Iraq with a fighting chance of success politically, economically, and a police force able to quell violence.

    4) Impeachment. Disagreeing with policy is not a basis for impeaching a President. Anger is not evidence. You must have EVIDENCE of high crimes and misdemeanors (something MORE than baseless accusations).

    I do invite you, however, to SPECIFICALLY back your statements:

    – "Impeach Bush", explain where Bush has violated US Laws, your evidence, and which court has found him guilty.

    – "Put Bush on trial at the UN for war crimes", (aside from the fact it's the HAGUE which prosecutes international criminals) – what international crime did Bush commit? What law did he violate? Would you also be indicting Congress since they voted to give Bush authority to pursue Iraq?

    PS – Notice I didn't mention Bill, Monica, or Hillary being an enabler?

    August 24, 2007 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  15. Ron Nebraska

    Bush probably doesn't know Vermont IS a state.

    August 24, 2007 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  16. Jon

    To respond to Michael Neff's question of what did Vermont ever do for the USA other than elect Communists and release child predators?
    Answer: Given more lives per capita to all of America's wars combined (including Iraq) than any other state (including Neff's Texas) in the U.S.A.

    August 27, 2007 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
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