Talk show hosts debate Iraq pullout
August 27, 2008 · Updated 8:23 PM
Talk show hosts have been debating over whether the Senates all night session in a vain effort to get 60 votes to advance a resolution supporting a pullout date for our troops in Iraq was democracy in action or a meaningless political stunt.
The vote counters at the start admitted they could only be sure of 52 so Majority Leader Harry Reid was either over optimistic about the persuasive power of his sides arguments or it was a meaningless political stunt. I vote for the latter.
They didnt take any roll call of members of the press so we dont know who was writing from observation and who from talking to observers. I know when weve had all night sessions of the Legislature in Olympia, I never stayed. I was always afraid Id fall asleep and sit there with my mouth open and someone might take a picture of me.
Thats what happened in 1967 when one of my legislators, Rep. C.W. Red Beck, D-Port Orchard, snoozed in his chair on the House floor at 2:15 a.m. and Rep. Paul Burden, R-Seattle, snapped his picture. Barden was quietly slipping toward the elevator when a fellow Democrat woke Beck and told him about it. Beck leaped up and was on Barden before he could escape. He grabbed the camera and bounced it off a desk a couple of times before Barden could retrieve it.
It was during the 1969 session, however, that there were two great performances which I did witness, since I am capable of lasting until midnight.
In one, the House was being called back to order at midnight to begin a new day of session and there was no minister handy to give the obligatory prayer so Rep. Bob Curtis, R-Chelan, was called upon to do it. Members were angry, tired and frustrated.
Lord, said Curtis, its been a long day. The words were like a cool breeze. In a simple and moving prayer, calling upon all present to do a good job for the people, in moments he calmed nervous, jumpy members of both parties and the tension was gone.
Later that session, exhausted House members were about to do verbal battle on the budget when Rep. Robert Goldsworthy, R-Rosalia, rose to explain that budget. No point in giving the figures, he said, they all knew what was in it. We tried and no single person here is going to like everything thats in it. Its kind of like the man who spent $500 to cure his halitosis and found out nobody liked him anyway. They laughed.
The budget has been watered here and there too, said Goldsworthy, but you can probably see where. In Rosalia, when you see a trout in the milk, you know its been watered. The Republicans, with our big, broad, bovine faces, sat down across the conference table and looked into the narrow, shifty, little red ferret eyes of the opposition-thats you! He waved at the Democrats.
We tried to satisfy everybody and felt we mainly did, he said. Its like the man who had five dimes in his nose and he went to the doctor to get them out and the doctor said why in heavens name didnt you come to me before now? And the man said, I didnt need the money until now.
He went on, telling more stories and wound up reading a poem by Browning.
When he was through, Democrats were the first to jump to their feet and give him a thunderous ovation. The budget passed.
In two completely different ways, two men, Curtis and Goldsworthy, were able to dissolve all differences in a body made up of 98 of the most temperamental people in the state. By the power of their words, they welded that 98 temporarily into one, into a House of Representatives trying to do the best job they can to represent the people.
Adele Ferguson can be reached at P.O. Box 69, Hansville, WA, 98340.