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State Senate talks about the war, but only a little
Posted by David Postman at 2:49 PM
Senate Democrats could not agree on an anti-war resolution after days of editing drafts and negotiating amongst themselves. Divisions among the 32 Democrats parallel divisions in the country, said Majority Leader Lisa Brown.
So instead of debating a non-binding resolution, Sen. Eric Oemig, D-Kirkland, who had earlier pushed to get the Senate on record calling for impeaching President Bush, rose to talk about the war as a point of personal privilege.
Oemig was answered by Sen. Dan Swecker, R-Rochester, a veteran of the Vietnam War. Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, also spoke against the war, and other senators are expected to give their opinions later in the day and through the final days of the legislative session.
Here are transcripts I made of the full comments of Oemig and Swecker, which I think are worth reading.
Democracy is often easier to enjoy than it is to participate in and protect. We inherited a great democracy and those who shaped it were not perfect. It'd be easier to point out their mistakes than to live up to their example. Our American tradition, our inherited tradition, is to aim high. And we're bound to make mistakes. We made plenty. History's filled with them — Gulf of Tonkin, Iran-Contra. But it's with action that we fix our mistakes. And when people are honestly mistaken and they learn the truth, they either cease to be mistaken or they case to be honest. If we do not act to correct our mistakes, our children will inherit them. We cannot restore the lives lost in Iraq, or the lost limbs or the lives shattered. But we can act.
We find ourselves on the floor of the Senate today hearing speeches about war and peace and perhaps even impeaching a president. That's something new for me, and probably even new for you who have been here a long, long time.
One visitor's gallery was full of impeachment supporters, and after the speeches they chanted, "Impeach, impeach, impeach." They then filed out politely, one elderly protester apologizing to the security guard for those that were so loud and the guard telling the visitors, "Thanks for coming today folks."
The discussion about the war and impeachment seemed to occur with as much civility as possible. But first there was a silly bit of political gamesmanship that did nothing to add to the debate.
Republicans, knowing that the war was expected to come up on the floor today, put small American flags on each of their 17 desks this morning. When Democrats came in for the morning session, they saw the flags dotting the Republican side, and immediately sent someone to buy 32 American flags so their desks, too, could fly the miniature Stars and Stripes.
It didn't stop there. Some Democrats removed the flag from the tiny flag poles and reattached them at half-mast to honor the people killed in the Virginia massacre. And that prompted a Senate Republican staffer to point out to reporters that the president's directive on the flying the flag at half-mast covered only full-size flags, not novelty desk flags.
UPDATE: While some Democratic senators said their little flags were at half mast for the Virgina shootings, Sen. Darlene Fairley, D-Lake Forest Park, said she started the move as a way to honor war dead; in her case particularly from the Vietnam war where she served as a civillian nurse.
Sen. Debbie Regala, D-Tacoma, talked later in the day and explained:
So my flag is at half-staff to honor those who will never come home,