Yours truly was the only press to show up this morning at Shaw’s on Shelburne Road in South Burlap to catch Congressman Peter Welch in action. Welchie and aide Jon Copans manned the folding table at the supermarket’s front door from 10-to-noon.
Even former Republican House Speaker Walt Freed [right] showed up! Freed of Dorset was docked down at Shelburne Yacht Club and picking up cold medicine for his lovely wife. We had a great chat. Honest. He's been reading the blog.
Not too busy for Welchie, but I’d say Vermont’s congressman got an earful from about 30 "shoppers" - one a familiar face from a past life of mine as a Leunig’s bartender in the early 1980s - Nancy Gerwig.
Nancy waitressed there for her four years at UVM [1982-86] while picking up a political science degree. Now a wife and mother of four living in Shelburne, she came to the supermarket with her youngest - four-year-old Greta to grocery shop and to ask her congressman a few questions.
“I thought the answers were not really what I wanted to hear,” she told me afterwards pushing her cart to her car. “I really feel that the Democrats are afraid to stand up and stop all the stretch of power that Bush has done.”
After living through the sanctimonious impeachment of Bill Clinton by the GOP majority, Nancy, like many Americans, has had a hard time understanding the Democrats’ argument against impeaching our disgraceful Liar-in-Chief - that it would detract from their other Democrat investigations and give the Republicans an issue to rally around.
Yes, indeed, it's a strange, strange world.
James Mullowney, a facilities manager at Vermont Gas Systems biked over to have a personal one-on-one with his congressman. Abortion, he told us afterward, is his #1 issue. He opposes it. What he expressed to Welch, however, was his objection to all the political partisanship and bickering. He said a bumper-sticker he’d seen "calling President Bush a terrorist” was way over the line.
“I appreciate that I made a point," he told Freyne Land. "I may not always agree with him, but I do appreciate him being out here and talking to people and listening to them.”
Said Welchie when it was over:
People are really engaged. I heard from everybody from people who are for impeachment to against impeachment. Folks who want us to do more on the environment. People who want us to focus on problems and not what they call partisan bickering. People are watching pretty closely.
What’s the top issue?
A lot of concern about the war, I think. A lot of concern about Congress trying to do something on health care. You really hear the most heart-wrenching stories about health care....More and more people who have been working hard can’t afford health care. They get it that our system isn’t working.