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November 20, 2005
"You guys are pathetic! Pathetic!"

While you're at The Australian, read Theatre of the absurd in Washington.

Geoff Elliott, Washington correspondent November 21, 2005 FOR political theatre, Washington is usually pretty light on.

Sure, there's razzamatazz, but the deferential nature of congressmen on Capitol Hill means there's none of the rowdy behaviour you might see in Canberra or across the dispatch box at the House of Commons in London.

And you wouldn't turn up to Congress expecting scenes like those in Russia or South Korea, for instance, where "bruising parliamentary encounters" is meant in the literal sense.

But in Congress late on Friday the House of Representatives erupted in a way even veterans hadn't witnessed before.

It had been precipitated the day before when respected war veteran and Democrat congressman John Murtha called for the immediate withdrawal of US troops.

In the ensuing debate of the next 24 hours, the house's newest member, Jean Schmidt, a Republican from Ohio, made the attack personal in way politicians in the US usually try to avoid.

"A few minutes ago I received a call from Colonel Danny Bubp," she said, referring to an Ohio legislator and Marine Corp's Reserve Officer. "He asked me to send Congress a message: stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message: that cowards cut and run, marines never do."

All hell broke loose.

It's always interesting to see how the democratic process is viewed from outside our borders, don't you think?

Posted by AnneZook at 11:29 AM