by Peter Freyne
Rather it was the packed, standing-room-only basement of the public library in the heart of downtown Barre, Vermont. Democratic Congressman Peter Welch faced down the Vermont lions of the anti-Iraq War left and walked away unscathed.
Oh, sure, he had to take getting yelled at by a few baby boomers who needed to get it off their chests or wherever, but he in no way, shape, or form gave an inch to their macho-bullying tactics.
Under the original format - unrevealed to Welchie - he was going to have had to keep his mouth basically shut - just answer "yes" or "no" to the 15 questions they had prepared for him.
Unusual to see a United States Congressman have to fight for and win his 1st Amendment rights at a public meeting, but he did!
The meeting between the congressman and 100 of his constituents lasted from 1:30 pm until 4 pm.
Afterward, Vermont's only member of the U.S. House told Freyne Land:
It’s my job. These are good Vermont folks who care passionately about the Constitution and the War in Iraq. And I feel it was important that I listen to them. I was glad to participate and listen to the conviction, the passion, the sense of urgency that they have.
My goal was to convey that I’m doing everything that I can to bring this war to an end.
Patrick Leahy, Bernie Sanders and I all have an extraordinary record. That’s why Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), singled me out me for providing leadership to end the war. And I’m doing absolutely everything that I can to take practical steps to end this as soon as it possibly can be ended.