Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Political theatre

Over at Counterpunch, Winslow Wheeler, a former Republican staffer on the Senate Budget Committee currently at the Center for Defense Information, writes about his experience watching the recent Petraeus/Crocker hearing held by the Senate Armed Services Committee:
It does not get any better than this--quite literally. And, that is the pity of it.

I have just finished watching the four and a half hour gala of the Senate Armed Services Committee "questioning" General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, America's high commissioners for Iraq. The hearing was greatly bally-hooed as a major Washington event on the war in Iraq--to say nothing of the significance it held for the two presidential candidates on the committee, Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Hilary Clinton (D-NY), and their opportunity to impress us all as ready to raise a right hand to swear a new oath of office.
What Winslow then recounts is all too accurate in describing the theatre of most congressional hearings (steroids in baseball, anyone?): questions that are more like speeches; questions that are never followed up on; and a whole lot of political posturing:
Throughout all this palaver--I can't say "questioning" because no real questions were asked - there were no answers that advanced our knowledge of what is going on in Iraq. General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker were never in danger of facing anyone who informed him- or herself well enough to know when they were being feed baloney - or if they did, enough spine to correct the general's and the ambassador's vague, uninformative answers.

After all, the "questioners" were clearly not after information; they were after political advancement or protection.

If they were after information, they are gross incompetents.

Last word: after Chairman Levin gaveled the hearing to a close, protesters in the room started singing a song. To the listeners on TV, their words were totally incoherent. A fitting end, I must say.
Read the rest.

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