At a lively town hall meeting Sunday, billed as a discussion about "peace and accountability," emotions directed at U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer ranged from calm to screaming mad. Nearly all of it was about one subject:
Impeachment of President Bush.
Angered by what they view as an immoral war and a corrupt administration, the crowd hammered on the theme of a congressional trial of Bush and wondered whether the controlling Democrats have the spine for it.
"People spilled blood to create this country and get this Constitution," said Lenore Norrgard, of Northeast Portland. "Impeachment should be at the top of the agenda."
She, like just about everyone else who used the word, got a thunderous applause from about 250 people who attended the meeting, held at the Hollywood Theater. At least half in the audience wore red T-shirts emblazoned in white with the single word "IMPEACH."
A handful of speakers were hostile, calling Blumenauer a "coward" for not outright calling for Bush's impeachment. Some said Bush should be tried for treason. And one, to some applause, said the president should be executed. Most were civil, if blunt.
"Courage is what we expect of our elected officials," said John Bradach Sr., of Northeast Portland, whose nephew was killed in Iraq. "It's clear the Democrats in Congress do not have the courage" to cut off federal money that pays for the war in Iraq.
Although impeachment is only a distant possibility -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has said it's off the table -- it's clear that the debate over Iraq has shifted toward a discussion of how to hold Bush and, to a lesser degree, Vice President Dick Cheney, to account. In a written preamble to his town hall meetings, Blumenauer said "impeachment should be among the options."
Before the meeting started, Blumenauer signed an oversized document called the "Oregon Declaration of Peace," in which he pledged: "I will vote 'no' on any appropriations bill that will continue U.S. military operations in Iraq."
Blumenauer cut off comments after about an hour and a half because he had to attend a memorial service of a friend. People in the audience began calling at him to respond to their questions about impeachment.
Bonnie Tinker, of Northeast Portland, one of the last to speak, urged everyone in the audience who favored impeachment to stand. Only a few remained seated. Then people began chanting, "Stand up, Earl!" He remained seated.
"I appreciate the focus, the passion, the determination and the courtesy shown today," he said. "I'm going to spend some time chewing on what you had to say."
He said he would post his response later this week on his Web site, an answer that clearly disappointed many in the audience.
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