The Independent on Norm v. Galloway
Cant, babble, and the American way
Rupert Cornwell, Washington reporter for London's The Independent, offers a withering assessment of our junior senator today, but his dispatch hits hardest as a piece of press criticism:
On the public stage, US politicians are not accustomed to serious challenge. Take Norm Coleman. He is a smooth, upwardly mobile Republican senator who is making a name for himself at the helm of the Permanent Sub-Committee for Investigations.... But on Tuesday, to UK and US observers alike, he looked way out of his depth, manifestly unprepared for what was coming when Mr Galloway began to testify....
And like the hapless junior senator from Minnesota, the US media too did not know quite what had hit it. For all its imperfections, Congress - in particular the Senate part of it - commands a rigid respect. Coverage of it tends to be strait-laced and humourless. Into this primly arranged china shop crashed George Galloway, to deliver a public broadside against US policy in Iraq, and the US system, unmatched since Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11.
In Britain, the prospect of such a confrontation would have sketch-writers and columnists salivating days in advance. But that is not the American way.... [A]nyone expecting such colour in the more august broadsheets will have been severely disappointed. The Washington Post and The New York Times devoted only inside-page coverage. The Times noted that Mr Coleman, despite being a former prosecutor, seemed "flummoxed" by Mr Galloway's "aggressive posture and tone". Both singled out the MP's debating skill. It is a skill on which, alas, American politics place little premium.