The most interesting thing about George Galloway’s performance in the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations yesterday was the way it highlighted the major differences in style between Westminster and Washington.
The Guardian’s Oliver Burkeman put it like this:
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.
Alex Massie also noticed in a sketch for The Scotsman:
The Senate has a reputation, many would say well earned, for ponderous and windy rhetoric. Snobbery is its lifeblood; stately sobriety its state of mind. Mr Galloway’s particular type of flamboyance would be considered the worst form of vulgar showboating in the Senate. Its members are not used to being accused of committing “schoolboy howlers” or to being lectured by witnesses and condemned for running a kangaroo court.
When it was his turn to speak, Mr Galloway drew frequent gasps of amazement from watching journalists and other interested parties, astonished at the chutzpah he was displaying. For the Americans in the audience, this was a new experience; for the Britons, it was all too familiar. Only the setting, the Dirksen Senate Office Building, was different.
Massie toned the piece down a bit for the American conservative magazine, the National Review.
But the clash of cultures has been a common theme in the American media commentary today.
Judith Miller, of all people, wrote the New York Times report on the hearing:
Galloway, accustomed to the rancorous debates of the British House of Commons, more than held his own before the committee. A flamboyant orator and a skilled debater, he attacked UN sanctions against Iraq, the program, and, above all, the American-led war to topple Saddam. The administration, he said, had based its invasion of Iraq on a “pack of lies” and was now trying to justify its actions with charges regarding the oil-for-food program and other allegations, which he called “the mother of all smoke screens.”
His aggressive posture and tone seemed to flummox Norm Coleman, of Minnesota, the first-term senator who heads the Senate panel. But after the hearing, Senator Carl Levin, of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the Senate subcommittee, joined his Republican counterpart in describing Galloway’s dramatic testimony as good political theater, but “not credible.”
The Los Angeles Times noted that he “testified under oath and without immunity but used harsh language that shook up the typically staid hearing room”. The Washington Post was abit more understated, calling him a “formidable debater”.
The best headline award, however, goes to Gotham’s Murdoch tabloid, the New York Post, which screamed, “BRIT FRIES SENATORS IN OIL”
Update: Massie article links were added after the initial post.