Trick question: What does the United Nations, state lands, and love of God have to do with each other? Maybe nothing--unless you're Clint Didier, the Tea Party farmer blessed by Sarah Palin when he ran for U.S. Senate a couple years ago and now, after surviving Tuesday's primary, a viable candidate for state Commissioner of Public Lands.
With the burly former NFL player firmly in the race, Seattle Weekly called Didier to find out just what he wants to do with the state's resources. He was unloading a truck, he said, and couldn't talk. Fortunately, there's a video to give us a flavor of his campaign. Filmed at a July 7th "Whatcom Freedom Rally," Didier, standing on a platform decorated with American flags and surrounded by farmland, gives a doozy of a performance that seemingly summons every Tea Party trope and accusation he can think of.
Of course, the U.N. is a favorite target for conservative conspiracy theorists and so we have the odd spectacle of Didier trying to tie a state official--incumbent Peter Goldmark - to this international body.
"Please research Peter J. Goldmark," Didier starts out (for some reason he loves to use Goldmark's middle initial), "and if you don't see an alliance with the United Nations and everything they're trying to implement in the United States--Agenda 21, biodiversity, the taking of private property rights and climate change...He's got DNR [the state Department of Natural Resources] 100 percent into climate change."
Didier goes on to call Goldmark "a dictator" and to accuse the commissioner of mismanaging state forests. He doesn't exactly flesh out his ideas, but his general thrust is that the incumbent has been too beholden to namby pamby, tree-loving liberal theology. "I want sustainable forests too," he says. "And the only way that's attainable is if Man puts his footprint back in the forest." With this, he takes an exaggerated step with one cowboy booted-foot.
On his website, Didier suggests that Goldmark has been restraining timber cutting on state lands, thereby failing to maximize revenue that goes to education funding, among other things. The Eastern Washington wheat farmer also attacks the incumbent for supposedly refusing to spray pesticide in beetle-infested forests.
In a phone call with SW, Goldmark calls Didier's accusations "off the wall" and says he is reluctant even to discuss them, for fear of giving them legitimacy. Nevertheless, Goldmark disputes the notion that his tree-loving sensibilities have kept him from maximizing timber revenue. In fact, he says, it's the recession that has kept timber revenue down. Prices have fallen precipitously and demand has fallen.
"I've done everything possible to keep volume up," Goldmark says. That includes fighting a lawsuit by environmentalists who are trying to restrict logging in southwest Washington due to concerns about the marbled murrelet.
Regarding the beetle infestation, he says Didier "doesn't address what else sprays would kill, like birds and insects, or the fact that it's extremely expensive and there's no money to do it." Goldmark says experts put him on an alternative course that involves removing damaged trees and allowing healthy trees to fight off beetles naturally.
Say this for Didier, though, he's entertaining--and charismatic. "Please make your covenant with the Lord now," he tells the Whatcom crowd with the authority of a preacher, even though what he's been talking about has nothing to do with religion.
Then he throws out an analogy for football fans (and haters of the Department of Ecology, apparently viewed as an evil, liberal influence on the land commissioner's office.) "This is a two minute warning," he says. "They still have the ball and they're driving it right down our throat. If we get possession of that ball, believe me, I will be in the face of the Department of Ecology."
Please see video of Didier rally on the next page.