By Guy Page
One of the perks of the news biz is getting to ask interesting people any questions you want.
This afternoon I am scheduled to turn on a recording device and ask Pulitzer Prize winning columnist George Will anything I want, until he or his handlers look at a watch and give me the ‘your time’s up’ look. Will is the honored guest and speaker at the Ethan Allen Institute 30th Annual Gala tonight in South Burlington.
I and a gaggle of other newsies will fire away with our questions. Having spent more than a half-century writing and speaking on current affairs, the longtime Washington Post and syndicated columnist has heard and answered every question ever asked a pundit by his lesser-known brethren.
But I’m going to tip him off, anyway. No doubt the man the Wall Street Journal once called “perhaps the most powerful journalist in America” will do his homework on the trip north from Washington, D.C. by reading today’s edition of the Vermont Daily Chronicle (link helpfully and hopefully provided).
To his credit, Will has already signaled that he’s not visiting Vermont to just talk about D.C. He’s loaded for bear with Vermont historical references – see his event-promoting video quoting the 1936 election quip, ‘as Vermont goes, so goes the nation.” That video is classic Will – using history to inform, amuse and encourage his conservative audience.
I’ll start him off with a softball. “What’s your most memorable trip to Vermont?” If true to form, he will answer with an anecdote involving baseball, a colorful political figure and wrap it up with a reference to a current political event. “A Vermont Expos baseball Vermont baseball fans were saddened when the debt-ridden Montreal Expos had no choice but to move to the welcome confines of RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. – perhaps a harbinger of a desperate shift by Democratic voters to the stadium namesake’s son, 2024 presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr..”
Then I’ll follow up with the same question I asked Dennis Prager when he came to South Burlington last fall: “What do you think of Bernie Sanders?”
Then I will pivot to three questions that a Washington insider like Will might answer:
“Who REALLY makes the big decisions in the Biden White House?”
“Is there any way to reverse the trend of the growth of the federal bureaucracy and its unelected decision-making?
“What’s the one thing that non-Beltway insiders don’t understand about how Washington works?”
If there’s time, I will ask: “Do you believe in God, and does that belief inform your writing and political views?”
Finally, I will ask the John McClaughry of Washington, D.C. if he sees the similarity. Midwestern roots. Longtime conservative. Writes witty, incessant columns about current affairs. Often refers to history, some of which he made himself. DC background (McClaughry worked in the Reagan White House). Ivy League education (Will – Princeton, McClaughry – Harvard).
At most of all – at ages four score and several years, both can still outshoot the young guns trying to make names for themselves in the writing biz.
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