For the local people who have been protesting against the war in Iraq for more than half a decade, Tuesday’s transition couldn’t come soon enough.
More than a dozen of them gathered at the home of anti-war activists Gail Capobianco and John-Michael Caldaro in Rowland Hollow Tuesday night. They popped champagne corks and drank toasts when President Obama’s swearing-in moment was replayed on a big-screen TV.
“This is the answer to a prayer,” said peace activist Linda LeTendre of Saratoga Springs, so happy she did a spontaneous dance whenever the topic of a new president came up.
LeTendre wore an “I Have A Dream” T-shirt with a picture of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney behind bars.
She said she firmly believes Bush and Cheney should be charged with war crimes for the invasion of Iraq and the alleged torture of terrorism suspects.
“I believe that as a Christian and as an American, because Christianity is about justice and America is about nobody is above the law,” LeTendre said.
The party had the theme of “So Long and Good Riddance to Shrub,” using a nickname the late Texas writer Molly Ivins gave George W. Bush.
Partygoers could throw socks or plastic shoes at a large Bush mask labeled “King George,” in a game called “Sock and Awe.”
Many people at the party have been among those who have held weekly peace vigils outside the Saratoga Springs post office in opposition to the Iraq war.
“I’m grateful we have a change, and a change to someone who is open and honest and caring,” said Capobianco, who has protested since the war began in 2003.
The whole country is becoming more open and caring, she believes. Even in casual settings like a YMCA, strangers seemed more polite and conversational with each other on Tuesday, she said.
Capobianco said she understands that American forces can’t leave Iraq immediately now that Bush is out of office, but she said their role needs to change. “We should start gearing our troops to do other work there, not fighting,” she said.
Caldaro, a MoveOn.org member and science teacher in the Shenendehowa Central School District, said he was pleased by the transition to a Democrat, and also by a reference Obama made in his inaugural speech to the role of science.
“You have people who will look at science fact and that says something about how everything will be done,” Caldaro said.
When Obama’s inauguration speech replayed on the big screen, the group paid rapt attention, except for shouts of “Yes!” or pumped fists at the speech’s most evocative lines.