But after listening, off and on, to an hour or two worth of Senate questioning and testimony today, I can't help but air my beef about Senate committee hearings. These meetings are important, no doubt about it, but they also take place within the political arena. And the political arena is too often clouded by ambition and a floor full of soapboxes. I found it highly questionable that Norm Coleman wasted everyone's time sucking up to Petraeus by complaining about MoveOn.org. I also found John McCain, in advance of his No Surrender Tour, to be particularly preachy. Unfortunately I can't find text of the Armed Services Committee hearings, but the Washington Post has good coverage on the earlier Foreign Relations Q&A, with full text here.
What does this mean, exactly? It means that these hearings are for finding information first and foremost, not for practicing stump speeches. As soon as I get the Armed Services transcripts I will add more, but here is the breakdown of who said what when each Senate Prez Candidate got their 7 minutes in the box. The numbers represent word counts from the Senator and the General/Ambassador, respectively. The more lopsided the numbers, the more lopsided the speech. Check it out.
Chris Dodd - 904
Petraeus - 758
Biden - 762
Barack Obama - 1190
What else does it mean? Chris Dodd is a fast talker. It should also be said that Biden had extra time to make speeches elsewhere in the hearing since he is Mr. Chairman. This tidbit might skew the data.
Finally, I also thought it important to share this interesting bit of testimony:
VITTER: Mr. Chairmen, may I ask one more question? Are there prostitutes in the Green Zone, and if so are they available to civilians?
BIDEN: Perhaps if you could make it brief. You have two more folks and I know you have to leave, so it's up to you, but...
CROCKER: Yes, sir. I'll be brief. Now, the most important lesson is the one that the central government is already demonstrating it has picked up, and that is recognizing, supporting and reaching out to prostitutes. I guess my answer is yes and yes.
VITTER: Are there diapers in the Iraq? I mean, I'm just wondering what kind of freedoms they have over there.
CROCKER: That is something you'll have to find out for yourself, sir.
VITTER: Thank you.
Just kidding, but I did chuckle to myself when I saw Vitter's name in print for the first time since Diapergate.