Just the Facts, George

Jeanne of Body and Soul nicely sums up yesterday’s Senate spectacle, in which, British MP George Galloway dressed-down Norm Coleman:

I think Galloway’s testimony was inspiring — and, although it’s not the whole thing, you really have to watch the video to get the full effect — precisely because he didn’t bitch-slap, knock down, bowl over, slay, or roll anyone. That kind of triumphalism — the “victory orgies,” as Barbara O’Brien, who is so good at tracking these things, calls them — is essential if the facts aren’t with you, and you can only win by scoring cheap points here and there. Pulling off a sharp insult. Twisting a fact to good effect. Bullying the messengers into parroting your message. Ha! We win!

But what Galloway did was the exact opposite. The rhetoric was good; the anaphora compelling. It helped that he had an empty suit like Norm Coleman for a foil. But it all worked because of the shock of hearing a political figure sit there and tell truth after truth after truth. Not a small truth buried in a ton of lies. Truth upon truth.

And that goes regardless of what you think of Galloway personally (I’m not high on him myself). Anyway, I’m bringing this up partly because Nat Hentoff makes a good point about the current judiciary battle in the Village Voice today. The “zingers” against Bush nominee Janice Rogers Browns have often made for good soundbites and sharp insults—Harry Reid said, “She is a woman who wants to take us back to the Civil War days”—but ultimately they’re not all true. There are other, perfectly legitimate reasons to oppose Brown’s nomination, which Ramesh Ponnuru in the National Review has been outlining—namely, that she doesn’t believe in precedent and thinks the Constitution can be scrapped if some “higher law” beckons—that also has the virtue of being true. I know there’s a camp of liberals who say you just can’t reason with the opposition, that we need our own set of hacks to match theirs, but I think Galloway showed yesterday the bare facts can be just as forceful.


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