As Rep. Peter Welch returned to Washington this afternoon, among the items he carried with him was a photo of him wearing a cowboy hat at a meeting in a parking lot in Derby Line. He looked a little like Ross Perot without the big ears.
He faced a hostile crowd there at one of his Congress in the Community gatherings. They were dubious, to say the least, of the health-care reform measures on the table in Washington.
Welch relayed that he asked the crowd for permission to ask them just one question before they started firing away at him. They weren't amenable. He pleaded. They finally relented. He told them he's bald and it was sunny and did anyone have a hat he could borrow? Stewart Skrill from Randolph (himself an independent candidate for Congress in 2000) offered up his cowboy hat. Welch discovered that cowboys really are onto something - the hat protected his head yet had a nice air flow.
He also said that borrowing the hat changed the dynamics slightly. He and the crowd were better able to get on with the discussion about health care. He said he can't be sure that he talked them out of believing that the legislation calls for death panels, but he tried.
_ Terri Hallenbeck