Friday, January 26, 2007

Peter Welch Did What?

Like most of us, I was appalled by the President’s State of the Union address earlier this week. So appalled, in fact, that I haven’t been able to find the words to express it.

Sure, Bush said a lot of really stupid and pandering stuff – just like every other blowhard who preceded him. And the members of Congress did what they always do: they cheered and cheered for stuff they’d normally boo and boo for. But, hey, they know that the nation is watching and they need to pretend to be “getting along” and otherwise behaving themselves. Whatever.

But these are different times. We are at war. People are dying in our name. And, worse, people are dying because of the inept policies and decisions of the man at the podium, President George W. Bush. So why were they cheering his every move?

And then we have to get to the Democrats, especially those like our own Peter Welch, who ran on election platforms only a couple short months ago pledging to stop the policies of the mad man at the helm. Hmm, how’s that working out, Peter?

Well, according to this morning’s Times Argus, Peter Welch was among the merry legislators who were clamoring for Bush’s autograph as he left the House chamber last Tuesday night. Yep, the guy we sent to Washington to confront and stop Bush’s dreadful policies was – instead – reduced to a cheerleading ninny seeking Bush’s autograph after a speech in which he basically dissed most everything Welch and his constituents believe in. Go figure.

And how did Welch explain this? Taste this quote:

“It’s like being a Red Sox fan at Fenway and getting Derek Jeter’s autograph,” explained Welch’s spokesman, Andrew Savage, to the Times Argus.

Say what?

First of all, Peter, what you were watching and listening to that night wasn’t a friggin baseball game. It was, instead, about life and death. Or, if you’d rather, war and peace. Baseball’s a game. Politics isn’t, especially when we as a nation and a globe are facing the kinds of issues that you promised us that you’d be going to Washington to fix. And, quite frankly, seeking the autograph of the man responsible for either creating our nation’s current ills or blocking the sane solutions ain’t fixing anything – it’s only making things worse.

If you really want to see Bush’s signature, how about getting him to sign a guilty plea on the impeachment resolution you’re still too afraid to introduce? Or, if that’s too radical for you, how about making him sign – into law or via a veto – a piece of legislation that would put an immediate end to the war?

But your constituents didn’t get that kind of work from you on Tuesday night. Instead, we saw you being reduced to a man overwhelmed by the pomp and circumstance of it all and lining up for a stupid autograph like a boy at a baseball game. Shame on you.

For some perspective, let’s go back to your campaign last fall. While trying to seduce a Vermont electorate that was – and is – irate over Bush’s war policies, you made a big deal over the difference between you and your opponent, Martha Rainville. Specifically, you mentioned time and time again how Martha would be seduced by Bush’s power and you’d be able to stand against him.

How funny is that now that you’ve been caught on camera begging for his autograph? If that’s all we wanted from our only representative in the House we most certainly would have elected Martha because she would have at least been able to get that same autograph in a more dignified manner – like, say, in a private Oval Office meeting.

But that’s not what we wanted. And you knew it, only seemingly to have forgotten it under the bright lights of Washington.

So, autograph seeking debacle aside, what ARE you doing for the vast majority of Vermonters who you convinced that you’d be “confronting Bush” once elected?

Not much, apparently.

The Snarky Boy called your office recently to see what you were doing to stop the war. All I got on the other end of your office’s phone was confusion. Come on, Peter, it’s not as if I was calling about some arcane issue. But, given your staff’s response, it was like they’d never even heard about the Iraq War.

First, some nice young lady tried to simply get my “personal information” so that she could quickly hang up on me and then force me to wait days and weeks and months for some kind of response. But the Snarky Boy ain’t playing that game. I wanted an answer as to what you were actually doing.

“Oh,” said the nice lady, “Let me connect you with Ches Thurber, our military person.”

Cool, I thought, I’m getting things done. But then young Ches Thurber picked up the phone and the confusion only continued.

“Congressman Welch,” he began with all the confidence of a twenty-something person trying like hell to play the expert, “has signed onto Rep. John Murtha’s Congressional resolution to look into the war.”

Wait. Wait. Wait. Stop right there, I said, and listen to yourself. You just said two things that are completely contrary to Welch’s electoral mission: Congressional resolution and to “look into” the war.

Earth to Welch staff: Vermonter’s elected him to STOP the war and CONFRONT Bush.

Poor Mr. Thurber. He was clearly used to having these bland lines just flying over the radar of his other callers. Not me. I am, after all, quite snarky.

I reminded Mr. Thurber that “resolutions” don’t amount to much more than a letter to the friggin editor and a “look into” the war was – well – bullshit. How much more do we want to look before doing something? You could just as easily “look” at a car accident on the highway, but what the victims really want is some ACTION.

“Well,” continued the young one, “the Congressman is still looking at other options.”

But the resolution option is the only one he’s signed onto? I asked.


And what are those other options?

“Well,” replied Thurber, “I’m not really sure right now. It’s all happening so fast and we’re really getting up to speed.”

Oh yeah. That much is obvious, especially when Mr. Thurber’s boss is out hunting for Bush’s autograph rather than seeking the input from congressional colleagues like Nadler, Hinchey, Markey and Woolsey who have done what Welch promised he was going to do and introduced legislation -- not just toothless resolutions – that would END the war in Iraq.

And Vermonters should know – especially the peace crowd – that Welch has not co-sponsored any of those bills. Not one. The best one, from my perspective is Woolsey’s. which you can read about here.

Welch, however, seems to be more interested in playing footsie with the House leadership and gaining Bush’s autograph like some lost kid at Yankee Stadium than doing the work he promised to do when he got there. And, quite frankly, that’s a shame.

What are we going to do about it Vermonters?

Stay tuned for Snarky Boy’s response….