by Peter Freyne
A whole lot more sun on the Third of July, eh?
And a big turnout, estimated at 80,000, along the Burlington Waterfront for the fireworks. Among them these four geezers, excuse me, distinguished grown-ups, on hand to honor Burlington College on its 35th Anniversary with a little boat cruise outside the breakwater on the Northern Lights for some dinner and fireworks.
From left to right, that's Marcelle Leahy, the guy she married, Bernie Sanders and the woman in his life - Jane Sanders, president of Burlington College.
Prior to their boarding, yours truly collared the members of Vermont's U.S. Senate delegation individually for the question of the day.
"I don’t think anybody there is surprised to see what the president’s done in commuting Libby’s sentence," said U.S. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee. "Not surprised, but terribly disappointed."
It's clear now, said Sen. Leahy, why Scooter Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief-of-staff, kept his mouth shut about his boss's involvement in the lies about Saddam Hussein's WMDs and the distortions to make Americans believe Saddam Hussein was connected to 9/11, "and all the other things that were covered up."
Now we know, said Leahy, Scooter knew "that if he kept his mouth shut, he’d get taken care of." President Bush has made it clear he's not ruling out a full pardon for the convicted perjurer, noted St. Patrick, "and the quid-pro-quo is: you keep your mouth shut and we’ll take care of you."
"There’s no question he has the constitutional power to do it," added Leahy. "I wish he’d exercise the constitutional responsibility not to."
Many Vermonters I talk to see a government in Washington with the crooks & liars in charge like never before, I told him. They're a little scared.
"This is why I keep raising the questions that I have," replied St. Pat. "That’s why I keep pushing for the subpoenas. There’s a lot of other things I could do that would be a lot easier, would certainly allow me to get to bed before one o’clock in the morning, but I’ll keep on doing it."
"Are we ever going to hear the truth?" asked yours truly.
"I hope." he answered. "I will keep pushing as long as I’m in the Senate. I’ll keep pushing to get the truth. When I was pushing on some of these questions once before, as you recall, I got one of the two anthrax letters," noted Leahy. "I don’t deter easily."
Next up, I grabbed the junior senator from Vermont, the mayor of Burlington in the 1980s who fought the winning fight to turn the old abandoned, junkyard Burlington Waterfront into the beautiful People's Waterfront you see today.
"What Bush has managed to do," Sanders told us, "has been to kind of negate the word ‘unbelievable.’ Everyday you say, ‘This is unbelievable!’ Then the next day it becomes even worse."
The guy should have been a columnist, eh?
"The good news, and this is sincerely good news," said Ol' Bernardo, "is that the American people, clearly, have caught on to what a disaster this administration is...At all levels, people are turning away from these people and that includes not only the Administration, but right-wing Republican extremism."
Said Lady Jane to the gathering minutes later: "Having a congressional delegation that is without a doubt thebest congressional delegation in Congress, and that’s not just myopinion, not everybody agrees, certainly, but progressive-mindedpeople across the country look to the Vermont delegation forleadership. We are very, very, very lucky to have them down there andwe’re honored that they come and spend tonight with us for the 35thbirthday of Burlington College."
Do check out the Burlington College website.
And yes, Congressman Peter Welch was there, but he arrived late and we didn't get a chance for a one-on-one.