Report from the Oemig Hearing
posted by March 1 at 22:24 PMon
This report was filed by Stranger news intern Jonah Spangenthal-Lee, whose name gets easier to remember every time you type it.
Remember that scene in 12 Angry Men when Henry Fonda stands up and gives an impassioned speech that changes the minds of everybody in the room? Emotional as today’s hearing for state Sen. Eric Oemig’s anti-Bush resolution (Senate Joint Memorial 8016) was, it wasn’t that.
For one thing, not one opponent of the resolution—which calls for a Congressional investigation into George W. Bush’s prosecution of the Iraq war—showed up to testify against the freshman senator’s proposal. Supporters, meanwhile, crowded into the small hearing chamber, most of them ending up in an overflow room.
For another, the resolution wasn’t really an impeachment resolution at all. Oemig even opened the hearing by acknowledging that “this [proposal] is not directly about the war. In fact, it is not even directly about impeachment. It is about getting answers. It is a petition to Congress asking them to do a serious, real investigation.” Among the claims Oemig and his supporters want Congress to investigate: That Bush misled the country into war; that his administration illegally diverted funds toward the war effort; that the administration’s admitted torture of prisoners of war is a war crime.
From the moment the hearing commenced, everyone pretty much had their way with the Bush Administration.
House Rep. Bob Hasegawa brought up wiretaps and the Enron bailout, declaring G.W. and Co. “the worst administration in the history of this country.” Fellow Rep. Maralyn Chase joined him in demanding governmental accountability. Elaine Phelps of Shoreline, an older woman in a bright red sweater, took on the criticism that Oemig’s bill is an exercise in bureaucracy, saying she “wouldn’t care if the entire house came to a standstill” if that’s what it took to “restore our rights.” Later, state Sen. Adam Kline declared that “President [Bush] reeks of impeachable offense,” to boisterous applause.
I asked Oemig what he thought of the lack of any opposing voices in the room, particularly from Republican legislators. Oemig responded, “I think there’s a conclusion you can draw from that,” chalking the lack of opposition up to the “undefendable” actions of the Bush Administration. More troubling for Oemig, perhaps, is the fact that he has not received much support from within his own party. He alluded to many “close, personal conversations” with Democrats who, he says, have been quite vocal in denouncing SJM 8016. When asked a what would drive a freshman state senator to take on the executive branch of the US government, Oemig smiled upon receiving the giant softball of a question and said that he was simply “answering a call from his constituents.”