by Peter Freyne
The vast majority were exceptionally polite. And Congressman Welch stuck around until every last one of them who wanted a say, got one.
That meant the "town meeting" that began at 11 a.m. didn't conclude until 1:40 p.m. - an hour and ten minutes longer that its planned 90-minute length.
Of course, the 90-minute length was not the congressman's first choice. Initially, he agreed to a one-hour session, and one that would commence at 9 a.m. Saturday morning. At first, when Impeachment organizers grumbled, they got a take-it-or-leave it response from the Welch camp.
Their response: they'd leave it!
At that point Welchie appears to have seen the light, gotten religion or had a vision. It appeared he'd realized how he would appear to many Vermonters if he gave Vermont's most passionate, persistent and polite anti-Bush grassroots constituency the big brush off. After all, these are not folks who vote Republican. Why enflame them and get the top spot on their hit list?
Among the Saturday political activists was this gentleman [left] with the "Impeach Bush" sign.
Ernest Wright, 86, of Randolph, is a World War II veteran. He was as a Navy SeaBee in the Pacific. Was at the Hartford High School Gym on Saturday because, he told me, he could "no longer stand a government which is illegal, uses torture and has violated the Constitution."
The government Mr. Wright was referring to is the government that's been operated in the United States of America since January 2001 by Republican President George "WMD" Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
Peter Welch gave his standard argument against impeachment: Mr. Bush is the worst president of his life, but starting impeachment proceedings will not speed the end of the illegal and immoral War in Iraq that Dubya and his cohorts started in the name of the United States of America.
Before the town meeting started, organizers held a presser at which they were asked how many people they expected to show up. After all, Welch didn't confirm the time change, moving the start back from 9 to 11, until late on Tuesday.
"If we get 100 people," said Attorney Jim Leas, "we'll be delighted. If we get 500 we'll be thrilled."
Let me tell ya, 250 people turning out on short notice on the first beautiful Saturday morning of May wasn't bad.
Leas also noted Welch had just voted to continue funding the Iraq War on Thursday.
"You cannot end the war by funding the war," said Leas. "By funding the war, you're supporting the war."