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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Best Political Theatre. Ever. 

George Galloway's effort to roast the Senate Subcommittee hearing is just brilliant, his rhetoric unlike anything most Americans would ever have seen I'd wager. Now, leaving aside debates about whether George's a nasty character, or whether he's telling the truth (whatever that means in these tangled webs) just sit back and enjoy this, courtesy of The Guardian.

"I know that standards have slipped in Washington in recent years, but for a lawyer, you're remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice," he told Norm Coleman, the Minnesota Republican who chairs the senate investigations committee, after taking his seat at the front of the high-ceilinged hearing room, and swearing an oath to tell the truth.

"I'm here today, but last week you already found me guilty. You traduced my name around the world without ever having asked me a single question."

The culture clash between Mr Galloway's bruising style and the soporific gentility of senate proceedings could hardly have been more pronounced, and drew audible gasps and laughs of disbelief from the audience. "I met Saddam Hussein exactly the same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld met him," Mr Galloway went on. "The difference is that Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns, and to give him maps the better to target those guns." [...]

By condemning him in their report without interviewing him, the senators had already given Mr Galloway the upper hand. But not everything was in his favour. For a start, only two senators were present, sabotaging Mr Galloway's efforts to attack the whole lickspittle lot of them - and one of the two, the Democrat Carl Levin, had spent much of his opening statement attacking the hypocrisy of the US government in allegedly allowing American firms to benefit from Iraqi oil corruption.

Even so, Mr Galloway was in his element, playing the role he relishes the most: the little guy squaring up for a fight with the establishment.

For these purposes, Senator Coleman served symbolically to represent all the evil in the world - the entire Republican party, the conscience of George Bush, the US government and the British government, too: no wonder his weak smile looked so nauseous.

"I gave my heart and soul to stop you committing the disaster that you did commit in invading Iraq ... senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong," Mr Galloway told him.

You tell 'em. My first reaction upon watching the various videos of this performance were to wonder whether there's still a few of us out there who wished the Democrats had nominated someone willing to adopt, fully, the case against the War, and state it without fear or favour. Sure, he might have lost, but then that always looked likely, didn't it?


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