Michael McGuire

Coffee, Nazi’s and Congressman [tag]Mike Arcuri[/tag] – probably not a tag-line the new representative had in mind on Saturday when he came to Norwich for what was presumably his first official visit to the area as an elected official.

But this wasn’t the typical weekend feel-gooder I thought it would be, either. I planned on a few “atta boy’s,” the usual quotes, a staged picture, and me getting in and out and on my merry way to enjoy the rest of my Saturday.

To my surprise, at times it was tense and awkward in the [tag]Coffee Connection[/tag], which is the last thing you expect in a cafe – unless you’re there competing in an espresso drinking contest with our staff photographer and local Paesan Icon, Frank Speziale.

Don’t be fooled, it started out as a love-fest. People cheered Arcuri’s work on a defeated minimum wage bill (a whopping $.20 increase for New York) like he had just saved the world from impending doom – which isn’t too far off from what they would ask him to do later on.

The crowd suddenly turned, with good reason, when Arcuri tried to cut-off the questioning about 40 minutes before his time was up (I think he started early, not sure if there was mis-communication).

People wanted answers. They wanted the Iraq war over, President Bush impeached, the [tag]NYRI[/tag] power line buried, universal health care, and a medium coffee with no sugar and lots of cream – lots of cream.

But Arcuri was not easily stirred (haha). He didn’t have – and wouldn’t give – all the answers they wanted. Even after the boos came.

Not to say he was right or wrong, but I think it’s cool when people stand their ground when they probably shouldn’t. That doesn’t happen often, especially when people are throwing copious amounts of iced latte at you (No lattes were actually thrown. However, the traditional fruit and vegetable ammunition was not on hand if it came to that – so when in Rome…)

– Editor’s note: The views expressed by this blogger are not necessarily the views of The Evening Sun or Snyder Communications.

One guy said that if we didn’t stop President Bush, that Americans were no different than the Germans in the 1930′s. Another added that the crimes America has committed in Iraq were no different than the war crimes that Nazi’s were put on trial for at Nuremberg.

It got heavy. I’ve been heavy. And let me tell you – it was hot in there.

I’d say I felt bad for Arcuri, but it didn’t look like he needed any pity from me. I thought he handled himself pretty good. Actually, I think the only person that was distraught was me.

Prone to overheating anyway, being surrounded by a bunch of steamed citizens and jugs of whistling hot coffee in a small place was scary. I didn’t prepare for a grilling – I didn’t even shave (which was the only thing that kept the guys behind me from beating me up, I think).

Next time I won’t assume that a fluffy atmosphere gathers a fluffy crowd. I’ll assume that people, if they feel strongly enough, will speak their minds no matter where they are and who they’re talking to. I won’t assume that [tag]politicians[/tag] won’t do the same.