[Marxism] Galloway to Hitchens: "You're a drink-soaked former Trotskyist popinjay"

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed May 18 08:44:13 MDT 2005


Galloway and the mother of all invective
Wednesday May 18, 2005
The Guardian

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".

Article continues
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 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.

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 questioning.

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.

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