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Political notes from Free Press staff writers Terri Hallenbeck, Sam Hemingway and Nancy Remsen



Can you say change?

Activities ceased at the Statehouse for a few hours today -- except for a lot of cheering as lawmakers -- especially Democrats and Progressives -- gathered around televisions in a couple of big rooms to watch the inauguration.

"History will change in the next half hour," a television commentator declared. "Yes," said more than a few in the mostly Democratic audience in Room 11.

The first sighting of Obama on the screen brought the crowd of about 150 to their feet.

When Dianne Feinstein asked everyone to stand while Barack Obama took the oath of office, the crowd rose again -- but quickly sat back down as many wouldn't have been able to see the screen if they stayed standing.

The other room, the legislative lounge, seemed a bit quieter, but attentive -- although I wasn't present for any of the critical moments -- just for Obama's speech.

Not everyone took time out to watch the events. A veterans group tended their display table outside the House chamber. Some Statehouse staff, a few lawmakers and lobbyists had the lunchroom to themselves through the noon hour.

Republican Gov. Jim Douglas was in the crowd in Washington and his staff returned to the privacy of the Pavilion to watch television in the press spokesman's office -- according to Dennise Casey, deputy chief of staff.

Democratic Senate President Pro Tempore Peter Shumlin was somewhere in the crowd in DC, but House Speaker Shap Smith, D-Morristown, dashed into Room 11 just before noon to catch the oath and speech.

"That was great," Smith said afterward. "It is an incredible feeling." Then he was on his way. "Now I have to go to work. We have challenges ahead."

-- Nancy Remsen

Wow, that Shap Smith really has a "way" with words!

Same 'ol, same 'ol
He'll do more in one term than Douglas has done in a lifetime.

What has Douglas done?

Oh, come on, Douglas has done a lot. He has appeared for the camera many times, he has uttered LOTS of meaningless sound bites, he has taken the credit for other peoples' work and ideas, etc.

Has he actually done anything good for Vermont? No, but he plays so well in front of the camera, people are fooled and actually vote for him.
Deb Markowitz for Governor.

Shap Smith - no way!!
Umm ... Shap isn't running for Governor.
Don't elect him to anything anymore!
Nothing like the snappy retort of "Shap".
Shumlin is going to eat Shap alive - this is going to be fun to watch!
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