When I got to the Statehouse Wednesday morning, the cafeteria was already packed with 200-plus people with name tags around their necks who'd come from all over the state to personally put their bodies on the line for two things:
2. The impeachment of President George "WMD" Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
A House Democratic rep who was following the issue closely and keeping a vote count had an ashen look in his face. On Monday, the word was impeachment supporters only had about 25 votes in the 150-seat House. On Tuesday the estimate rose slightly to 30.
But at 10:30 Wednesday morning, our Democrat vote-counter told us he would have predicted impeachment would get no more that 40 votes max....that is until he saw the size of the intelligent, well-behaved grassroots crowd that had showed up. And people were still pouring into the building.
All bets were off.
Who are these people?
Folks like Bill Cobleigh, 60, of Wallingford.
"I’m here because I’m angry. I represent thousands of others who couldn’t be here today because they have other obligations," he said.
"I have two children in the United States Military (one Coast Guard one an Army nurse), Bill told us. "I support our troops because they’re my children, but I’m angry."
And Cobleigh confided to us it was the first protest he'd ever participated in in his life!
Also among the crowd that grew to 400 plus was 87-year old Bonney Simons of St. Johnsbury.
Why was she there?
"Because they are ignoring the Constitution and in order to get this war stopped we have to get them out of office."
And what was retired school teacher Jim Waters of Milton doing at the Statehouse?
"I’m here because this administration has set about systematically dismantling and destroying the Constitution of the United States.
"Secondly I’m hear because this administration has perpetrated a fraud on the American people and it has used that fraud to send more than 3000 American young people to their death, to say nothing of more than 500,000 innocent Iraqi civilians."
In my 20-plus years of covering the goings-on under the golden dome in Montpeculiar, I have never witnessed the powers that be - the political leaders who run both House and Senate - completely reverse their dug-in public positions in the face of a grassroots outpouring of political opinion, passion and and determination.
Let me tell ya, it's been beautiful to watch.
Ten days ago, Senate Boss Peter Shumlin, Ol' Pistol Pete from Putney, told his hometown Brattleboro Reformer:
...impeachment proponents should feel free to travel to Montpelier, but his mind is made up. "I welcome them on Tuesday. I welcome them any day. But we're not doing impeachment this year," he said.
As everyone knows, Shumlin pulled a 180-degree switcheroo last week. Shummy took advantage of Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie's absence to slip the "Impeach Bush & Cheney Resolution" onto the "orders of the day" and it was adopted within 10 minutes on a roll-call vote 16-9.
Four hours later at her Friday "Brown-Bagger" with the press, Democratic House Speaker Gaye Symington was still insisting the House would not take it up - more important things to do.
"What I would like to do," said Simple Symington, "is be able to focus on what matters most to Vermonters, and the work that I was elected to do as Speaker of the House."
Whatever you say, Madame Speaker, you're the boss!
Speaker Gaye had her "impeachment conversion," or rather, "democracy conversion" sometime Monday. "Political" minds finally impressed upon the Tuxedo Park, New York native, and consensus-building policy-wonk, the importance in a democracy of actually listening to actual people, ordinary people, people incensed by the high crimes of the most corrupt regime to ever control our government.
On Tuesday the word officially got out that Speaker Symington would allow the resolution to be debated on the House floor Wednesday afternoon and brought to a vote.
Of course, Symington also knew that the common folk from every corner of Vermont were planning to rally at the Statehouse Wednesday to do just that - urge her to allow the House to debate it.
Even though they knew the prospects of winning a House vote were slim - since Symington, herself, strongly opposed it and would bring many Democrats with her - the ordinary folks had the strange notion that having the House address it was, in and of itself, a significant victory for democracy.
And they were right.
The Impeachment Resolution Progressive Rep. David Zuckerman [left] introduced with two dozen co-sponsors was defeated 87-60. But it's worth noting that Democratic Speaker Symington lost the Democratic vote 52-39. The Dems who voted "no" were for the most part Symington recruits which means they're middle-of-the-road to conservative Democrats.
More significant is the fact that the House Speaker lost her own House leadership team!
Both House Democratic Majority Leader Carolyn Partridge, and House Democratic Whip Floyd Nease voted "yes."
So did 11 of the 14 committee chairs Symington appointed, including former House Speaker Michael Obuchowski (Ways & Means). Only three House committee chairs, one of whom is Republican, voted "no."
Dare we suggest that a House Speaker who can only hold three of the 14 committee chairmen she appointed, is a House Speaker who ought to be thinking of a career change?
Did you catch Bill Moyers' chilling return to PBS last night with a 90-minute documentary pointing out in specific detail how the major mainstream press - The New York Times and Washington Post along with CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN and Fox - collaborated with the Bush Administration in spreading, unchallenged, the lies used to lead us to war in Iraq?
"Buying the War" is a must see. This horror could not have happened without the help of the corporate-controlled major media.
Shocking and shameful!
Even The New York Times and Washington Post.
Finally, the truth is coming out, mes amis. And the truth will set us free.