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Welcome to Vermont, Dick! Now Go Home

Cheney’s Breakfast in Burlington

by Ron Jacobs

Burlington, VT. In what local Democrats perceive to be a serious attempt to effect a regime change in Vermont, where their party has owned the Governor’s office since 1991, Dick Cheney flew into town this morning.

The reason for his most honored visit was to help the current GOP candidate for governor-a weaselly man named Jim Douglas-raise some campaign funds via the time-honored tradition of the $5000 a plate meal. To this end, the Vermont Republicans arranged to have a breakfast in a building right at the Burlington Airport.

This meant the Vice President would never have to leave the secure fences of this federally-controlled facility. Obviously, this also meant fewer headaches for his security team. Add to this the fact that the GOP was quite secretive about when and where their great leader would be and one has to wonder how popular this guy and his government’s war really is.

The antiwar forces were not to be outfoxed. After a bit of research, we determined when and where Dick and the Republicans would be dining and put out the call.

As if Providence were on our side, there was even a vacant parking lot nearby where protestors from around the state could park their cars and gather before the march and noisemaking event. So, the stage was set. People began gathering at the parking lot around 9:15 Thursday morning. Signs came out of trunks and folks poured out of cars. By 10 AM, close to 300 people (which is a lot of people in Vermont, where the biggest town is only around 40,000 strong) stood along the road, in the parking lot, and on the sidewalk waiting for the word to move.

The group included identifiable organizations like the local branch of the International Socialist Organization, Women in Black, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), and members of other organized groups like ACERCA the Vermont Progressive Party, and the local Peace & Justice Center. In addition, there were dozens of individuals who belong to no organization or group, but wanted to give Cheney an earful of their opposition.

Ages ranged from young to old, including several white-haired men and women, along with high school students and several dozen folks from the local colleges. Many of the veterans mentioned to me how many new faces were in the crowd.

Finally, we headed up the road towards the newest restaurant in town, where brunch cost a mere $5000 a plate and only those with proper politics can dine. As we walked, several folks in various vehicles-personal and work-honked their horns and flashed peace signs in support. Occasionally, an individual with a face twisted by anger and an upraised middle finger drove by yelling some obscenity or the other at our entourage.

So intent on getting their message to us, these drivers barely missed causing several traffic accidents on the well-traveled stretch of road we marched along.

After thirty minutes, the entire march reached the part of the airport wherein Mr. Cheney was anointing his minions. The crowd grew even larger and more boisterous as diners filtered into the security zone. They dined behind two lines of police and secret service, a twelve-foot high chain link fence with barbed wire on the top, and three tractor-trailer trucks lined up end-to-end.

I hope they enjoyed their breakfast. Although I can’t speak for everyone, it seemed like those of us in opposition enjoyed disrupting it.

After two hours, I remembered I had to get back to work and left the scene, which was still just as raucous and almost as large.

Ron Jacobs lives in Burlington, VT.

He can be reached at: rjacobs@zoo.uvm.edu