Post by A Man Beaten by Jacks
(The guy described by George Galloway as a "drink-soaked former
Galloway and the Mother of All Invective
Whatever else you made of him, when it came to delivering sustained barrages of
political invective, you had to salute his indefatigability.
George Galloway stormed up to Capitol Hill yesterday morning for the
confrontation of his career, firing scatter-shot insults at the senators who had
accused him of profiting illegally from Iraqi oil sales.
They were "neo-cons" and "Zionists" and a "pro-war lynch mob", he raged, who
belonged to a "lickspittle Republican committee" that was engaged in creating
"the mother of all smokescreens".
Before the hearing began, the Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow even had some
scorn left over to bestow generously upon the pro-war writer Christopher
Hitchens. "You're a drink-soaked former Trotskyist popinjay," Mr Galloway in
formed him. "Your hands are shaking. You badly need another drink," he added
later, ignoring Mr Hitchens's questions and staring intently ahead. "And you're
a drink-soaked ..." Eventually Mr Hitchens gave up. "You're a real thug, aren't
you?" he hissed, stalking away.
It was a hint of what was to come: not so much political theatre as political
bloodsports - and with the senators, at least, it was Mr Galloway who emerged
with the flesh between his teeth.
"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."
American reporters seemed as fascinated as the British media: at one point
yesterday, before it was his turn to speak, Mr Galloway strode from the room,
sending journalists of all nationalities rushing after him - only to discover
that he was going to the lavatory.
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
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.
And yet for all his anti-establishment credentials, Mr Galloway is as practised
as any of his New Labour enemies at squirming away from awkward questions. Under
scrutiny by Senator Levin, he deployed a classic example of the bait-and-switch
technique that is the government minister's best defence in difficult
But Mr Galloway Goes To Washington had never really been an exercise in
clarifying the facts. It was an exercise in giving Norm Coleman, and, by
extension, the Bush administration, a black eye - mere days after the bloody
nose that the Respect MP took credit for having given Tony Blair. And it went as
well as Mr Galloway could have wished.