A Reality Show That Obey Would Rather Forget

By Lyndsey Layton and Michael D. Shear
Saturday, March 10, 2007

Tina Richards, an Iraq war protester and mother of a Marine, confronted Rep. David R. Obey (D-Wis.) this week to ask why he would vote for a war spending bill and demanded that Congress bring the troops home. Obey, who had spent long days working on compromise language between liberals and conservatives in his party, said the bill was the best hope to stop the war. And gave her an earful.

And in this digital age, it all was captured surreptitiously on video by another protester for the world to see on YouTube.

"We're trying to use the supplemental to end the war," said Obey, chairman of the Appropriations Committee and sponsor of the legislation that would end any combat role for U.S. troops by Aug. 31, 2008. "You can't end the war if you're going against the supplemental. It's time these idiot liberals understood that!"

As another protester joined Richards, Obey continued: "That bill ends the war! If that isn't good enough for you, you're smoking something illegal. You've got your facts screwed up. We can't get the votes! Do you see a magic wand in my pocket? We don't have the votes for it. We do have the votes if you guys quit screwing it up. We do have the votes to end the legal authority for the war, that's the same as de-funding it."

Obey released an apologetic statement yesterday. "I am sorry that I yelled at them," he said. "I respect their passion on the issue, I wish they would respect mine. We are both frustrated, and that led us to have an argument that we never should have had because we both want to see an end to U.S. involvement in that war."

Richards, 44, was mystified by the encounter. "I don't understand why it has to be that way," she said in an interview yesterday.

To see the encounter, go to http://www.washingtonpost.com.

No Fans of Giuliani

The nation's largest firefighters union charged that Rudy Giuliani, while he was mayor of New York, treated the city's firefighters killed on Sept. 11, 2001, with a "disgraceful lack of respect" and urged members to say "Hell no" to his presidential candidacy.

The accusation by the International Association of Fire Fighters, which has 280,000 members, came in a draft letter dated Feb. 28 that was never distributed. A different version was posted on the group's Web site after the first draft was publicized. Both condemn Giuliani for reducing the number of firefighters who could look for their fallen comrades two months after the terrorist attacks.

"Mayor Giuliani's actions meant that fire fighters and citizens who perished would either remain buried at Ground Zero forever, with no closure for families, or be removed like garbage and deposited at the Fresh Kills Landfill," the union's general president, Harold A. Schaitberger, wrote in both versions of the letter.

Giuliani's campaign rejected the criticism from the union, which clashed frequently with Giuliani as mayor. The union's president was one of the first to endorse John Kerry in the 2004 presidential campaign. Giuliani's campaign released a letter from a retired New York firefighter who praised his actions in the aftermath of the attacks.

"Those of us who have worked with him know that Rudy Giuliani has always been a steadfast and unrelenting supporter of firefighters and first responders," wrote Lee Ielpi, whose son, also a New York firefighter, perished in the attacks. "The IAFF's accusations . . . flies in the face of the facts. It is offensive and inaccurate."

Giuliani also announced the endorsement of almost 100 firefighters in South Carolina.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company