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Shock & Awe Hits Vermont 

Inside Track

Weren't all the Bush administration experts predicting just over a week ago that the Earth's one and only superpower would make short work of Saddam Hussein's Iraq?

Wasn't Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld boasting on a daily basis about the power and efficiency of U.S. missiles and bombs?

And wasn't the secretary comforting as he assured the American public that our high-tech, hellacious bombing campaign, dubbed "Shock & Awe," would bring Hussein's regime to its knees?

Surprise, surprise!

No cheering crowds of Iraqis yearning to be free. No easy ride to Baghdad. No bloodless "liberation" of the country.

Instead, fundamentalist Muslims and moderate Muslims around the world are now joined together, rallying against the evil empire known as the United States of America.

And so are citizens of every religion and nationality, including patriotic Americans who are just waking up to the fact that their beloved democracy has been hijacked by a gang of Texas oil men.

Thank you, George W. Bush. Nice work!

And this week, a whole lot of shock and awe is being felt on the homefront. A whole lot of anxiety, depression and fear, too, as GIs are killed and captured and questions are raised in military circles about the Pentagon's hurry-up offense.

According to Susannah Chamberlin at Burlington's Howard Center for Human Services, more and more people have been seeking professional help for a host of symptoms related to the war on Iraq.

The Howard Center provides mental-health services to the 9500 employees of more than 30 local business, including Burton Snowboards, Ben & Jerry's, Green Mountain Power and the Merchants Bank.

"What we have seen," said Chamberlin, "are people coming in with more depression and anxiety lately. It's just kind of hanging in the air."

In fact, so many people have been seeking help that Howard is offering two free workshops this week at Memorial Auditorium "to help people cope with the stresses of these difficult times." The sessions will be held Wednesday and Friday at noon and will last one hour.

Chamberlin emphasized, "They're not about whether you think the war is the right or wrong thing. That's for a different forum."

Let's see know, what are the symptoms of the new stress strain?

We checked the list Chamberlin provided. A few stood out: knot in the stomach, lack of energy, feeling hopeless, questioning life's assumptions, anxiety, irritability.

Sounds like someone we're very, very familiar with. What to do?

Well, besides a good diet, plenty of sleep and exercise, the recommendations include "talking it out," "focusing on small joys" and "being especially kind to others."

If only the Bush regime had "talked it out" and been "especially kind to others," eh?

We've also noticed in the past few days that even short periods of time spent in front of the boob tube watching CNN, MSNBC and FOX News dramatically increases our anxiety level and desire to consume alcoholic beverages. The final recommendation on the Howard list sounds like a cure:

"Take breaks from media input and from thinking and talking about war-related events. Some people feel better knowing what is going on, others feel worse. Know your limits. Watching endless news programs is likely to heighten your anxiety and that of your children."

No kidding.


Patriots for Peace — Here's one for you. What former Democratic governor of Vermont gave a stirring antiwar speech in Battery Park Saturday afternoon?

No, it wasn't our favorite presidential hopeful Howard Dean. Ho-Ho was nowhere in sight. Rather, it was former governor and ambassador to Switzerland Madeleine Kunin who rallied the huge crowd.

"We can support our troops and pray for their safety and their safe and swift return," said Kunin, "but while we do that, while we carry them in our hearts, we also oppose the present policy of preventive war. And that's patriotic," she said. "We're patriotic!"

Kunin, who served as Vermont governor from 1985-1991, addressed head-on the "terrible sadness" so many are experiencing in these dark days of early spring.

"You know," she said, "we who marched in marches before always thought that this would never happen again. That people had learned. That diplomacy was sophisticated. That it worked."

Wrong.

"Now we see the gut reaction, the old reaction," continued Kunin. "War still happens. We thought that those days were over. How did we get from the end of diplomacy to the beginning of war?"

Having not seen Madeleine in action in more than a decade, we'd forgotten how positively eloquent she can be.

"The United Nations is the only vehicle we've been able to construct after all these years to prevent war. And here, we sidestep the United Nations and say we're not paying attention to you. We're doing it on our own. And that is a tragedy in and of itself.

"Whether there are high casualties or low, the failure of U.S. diplomacy is a terrible blow to the infrastructure for peace in the world," said Kunin.

"This is a time of mourning not only for those who will be killed trying to remove Saddam Hussein," said Queen Madeleine, "but also it's a time of mourning for a nation that has reversed its position in the world, as a harbinger of peace, a symbol of peace, to today being a symbol, unfortunately, for war."


Kudos to the Cops! — It was an outstanding display of police professionalism Saturday, as Burlington's finest escorted the larger-than-expected crowd of more than 2000 antiwar demonstrators through the streets of the Queen City.

Mayor Peter Clavelle observed the demo from the sidewalk. Though his heart opposes Bush's invasion of Iraq, as mayor, he said, he belonged on the sidelines as an observer.

"I'm impressed with the number of people," Mayor Moonie told Seven Days. "Obviously there are a lot of Vermonters who have a need to vent and express their opinion."

Obviously delighted by the peaceful nature of the protest, Clavelle said he appreciated, "the respect of the law by the protesters and also the way that our police have handled this protest and others. They are pros!" said da mayor.


Deanwatch 2004 — Lots going on in Dean Land.

First is the news of a planned Howard Dean bestseller. According to Dean for America spokesman Sweet Sue Allen, "Gov. Dean is writing the book with the help of a biographer that Simon & Schuster will choose. The publish date is this fall, possibly as early as September."

No title so far, according to Allen. And she declined to discuss any dollar amounts. There was a bidding process, and Simon & Schuster won.

The Dean book, said Ms. Allen, will be "a mix of biography and policy. Who he is, what he has done and his vision for the nation."

Cool.

Seven Days has also learned that Ho-Ho had a top-shelf Washington insider pitching his story.

Bob Barnett of Williams & Connolly has also represented authors like Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bob Woodward, Bill Bennett and Lynn Cheney.Mr. Barnett's client stable also includes TV news celebrities like Sam Donaldson, Judy Woodruff, Jeff Greenfield, Christiane Amanpour, Brit Hume and Andrea Mitchell.

Barnett has been involved in Democratic presidential campaigns since 1976. One of his specialties is prepping candidates before TV debates. He played George Bush I in practice sessions with candidates Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, Michael Dukakis in 1988 and Bill Clinton in 1992.

Third time was the charm, eh?

Barnett told Seven Days this week he has "great respect" for Howard Dean. They first met a few years ago at a Renaissance Weekend at Hilton Head. "I've followed his career with great interest," said Barnett.

Small world. So have we!

But don't take Barnett's representation as an endorsement just yet. The dealer from D.C. told yours truly, "I represent people I agree with and people I don't agree with. People come to me for my legal skills, not my politics."

If the Howard Dean book is anything like the new "L.L. Dean" portrait hanging in the Statehouse, it should be quite the canoe trip.

Meanwhile, the incoming fire from Ho-Ho's Democratic rivals heated up 100 degrees last week!

Seven Days has learned Dr. Dean has apologized to one rival, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, for sharp remarks Ho-Ho made at the California Democratic Convention March 15.

The Vermont candidate was heartily applauded by the Sacramento delegates, particularly for his antiwar statements. Meanwhile, John Kerry got heckled and Edwards drew a chorus of boos when he defended his support for President Bush's invasion of Iraq.

Dean called Kerry and Edwards "fine people." He said they'd "done a lot for the country," and he'd have no problem supporting either one as the Democratic standard-bearer in 2004.

But, continued Dean, "I don't think we can win the White House if we vote for the president's unilateral attack in Washington and then come to California and say we're against the war." Both Kerry and Edwards supported the so-called "blank check" Iraq resolution that sailed through Congress last fall.

That drew a standing ovation from the Californians. Dean fed off the enthusiasm of the 1200 delegates like a conquering hero. In fact, Ho-Ho was so pumped that, his voice cracking, he shouted out a few catchy new lines like, "I want my country back. We want our country back!" And "I don't want to listen to the fundamentalist preachers anymore!"

Needless to say, Kerry and Edwards were positively p.o.'ed by Dean's digs.

The Boston Globe, which already has staked out its territory as the unofficial medium of the Kerry for President Campaign, reported Sunday that Big John and the Carolina Cutie had an animated "personal" conversation about Vermont's Howard Dean on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

Their voices were so loud, they were heard in the press gallery. Referring to Ho-Ho's speech in Sacramento, an outraged Edwards was quoted as saying Dean "got up there and lied!"

You see, Edwards had not changed his tune on the war to placate the California crowd as Dean had charged. In the face of boos and catcalls, Edwards literally stuck to his guns.

Dean later said he was not in the hall when Edwards spoke and, when he arrived, no one informed him about what the handsome Southerner had said.

"Had I known what Sen. Edwards had said," Dean told the Globe in a Friday interview, "I would not have said that."

Of course, he didn't write the apology until Sunday, after the Boston Globe article appeared. In fact, on Saturday, Dean enjoyed a rare personal rest day. He was home in Burlington. We know he didn't make the big antiwar march. Probably was busy with chores around the house, eh?


Corrections — Last week's "I am Caesar" quote from an email sent to Sen. Mark MacDonald may have been penned by Joe Shakespeare, but, despite its eloquence, it definitely wasn't written by William Shakespeare. (Marky Mark's a schoolteacher by trade. Obviously, not an English teacher.)

Thanks to the gaggle of Shakespearean scholars in the audience for the rapid response. Apologies to The Bard of Avon.

Also, Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie is in the Air Force Reserve, not the Army Reserve.

Sorry, Colonel.


Guv's Report Card — After almost three months on the job, Vermont's new governor has called for raising the minimum wage, announced the opening of a new residential drug-treatment facility, read the riot act to the Fletcher Allen Health Care board of trustees and ticked off Republican Speaker Walter Freed & Co. by touting an Act 60 reform proposal based on the one that Sen. Peter Shumlin proposed a year ago.

Not bad. Sounds like typical Doug Racine policy. But Democrat Doug Racine is not our new governor. The Quiet Man lost. Republican Jim Douglas won. And he looks like he's been moving left ever since.

"I'm thrilled," said Shumlin when asked about Gov. Douglas' backing of his Act 60 reform plan. "I've got some other ideas he just might want to implement, too."

Shummy lost the lieutenant governor race last fall. He's returned to life in the private sector, running Putney Student Travel. But make no mistake, like Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Peter Shumlin shall return!

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

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About The Author

Peter Freyne

Peter Freyne

Bio:
Peter Freyne, 1949-2009, wrote the weekly political column "Inside Track," which originated in the Vanguard Press in the mid 1980s; he brought it to Seven Days in 1995. He retired it shortly before his death in January, 2009. We all miss him.

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