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Rock, Paper, Scissors

Jun
7
2005

There is something really interesting going on with the 9/11 Commission and its members’ decision to stick with the group’s mission despite its lack of official government funding.
Calling themselves the “9/11 Public Discourse Project,” the group is scheduling more public hearings on issues it believes the Bush Administration is neglecting. In other words, they are taking it upon themselves to do work they believe is not being done by the U.S. government.
That, my friends, is one hell of a statement. In almost any other nation, the Discourse Project decision to keep going would be considered a vote of “no confidence” by that nation’s senior statesmen. Think that’s an exaggeration? Imagine if the Warren Commission, called to investigate the Kennedy Assaination, had kept going because it’s members thought its work was still undone. Scary, eh?


There is no way – no credible way – to call this a partisan outfit or to denounce its work in political terms. The Discourse Project is being led by Gov. Tom Kean, a Republican. And it’s got former Senator Slade Gorton and former Navy Chief John Lehman on board. The Democrats on the committee aren’t exactly hotheads, either: They include Tim Roemer, the guy who suggested that the Democrats reconsider their position on abortion and Bob Kerrey, the former Senator who would have happily invaded Iraq under Clinton.
What we have here folks, is honest-to-God civic momentum on an important issue. And everyone – regardless of party – ought to rise up and not just congratulate these people but do all they can to encourage their work. There may well be political careers made by members of this organization but so what? The public service aspect of politics is so drown out in our current atmosphere of shouting and name-calling that it’s not just a relief, it’s almost a political miracle – to see this sort of activity continue.
It used to be that a politician made a career not by raising money and getting on TV but by actually doing something – by fighting for a cause or an issue – and effecting change or providing leadership. If former Gov. Kean thinks this commission is a way to get back in the game or if Bob Kerrey think it’ll help him someday be governor of New York, that’s fine with me. That doesn’t discredit the work being done or the good and patriotic intentions behind it.
Republicans criticize the commission for doing the bidding of the manipulative “9/11 families,” a nice way to talk about the four widows, the “Jersey Girls” who have sucked it up and used their status to keep people from forgetting what happened on September 11, 2001. Again, so what? They have a point and, you know, I’m sure they have lots of better things to do with their time and money and energy than bug a bunch of politicians. On top of that, most of ‘em are Republicans just like Kean.
If you need any proof of how the Bush Administration is bungling domestic security, take a gander at this New York Times piece about a classified report on how airports could be made safe and oh, yeah, a little more efficient. I had pretty much the same response Chris Hitchens did when he read it and he’s nastier and travels more than I do so go read his critique.
And then ask yourself why is it that obvious statements about what’s wrong with our nation’s airport security had to be kept from the American public? I made three trips to the East Coast from California last month. I still don’t understand all the searching and poking. I am deathly sick of taking my computer out of its softcase then putting it through a conveyor belt that’s 10 feet away and not well supervised; I am tired of taking off my shoes, particularly since I’ve started to wear flip-flops on planes and I’m still confused as to why I could take a manicure scissors to Washington, D.C. from Oakland on May 1st but couldn’t take that same pair scissors from Oakland to New York on May 15th.
We are worried about nail scissors while the work of the 9/11 commission is considered – by the very people charged with its oversight – undone. Why? And why aren’t more people in both political parties asking that question?

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 10:54 AM | Permalink

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