9/11 survivors’ partisan anti-Clarke letter

In an open letter published in the New York Post (story), about forty 9/11 survivors have accused Clarke of profiteering and divisiveness. They accuse of him of partisanship — a charge for which there is no real evidence — but then themselves come up with these Republican talking points:

“[N]o one could have known that 19 terrorists already in the United States would hijack domestic aircraft and fly them in to the World Trade Center and Pentagon….. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, it was President Bush who helped unite America and guide us through that devastating time. Since 9/11, he has taken the fight to the terrorists abroad. He recognizes that America is at war and has made the difficult choices necessary to destroy the terrorists and confront those who harbor them.”

In an earlier story about Bush’s 9/11 political ads in the Washington Times, one of the Post letter’s signers, Rosemary Cain, is quoted as follows: “Anything that memorializes the victims of 9/11 is right and good,” said Mrs. Cain, adding that “it angers me that they are flapping over” the imagery in the Bush ads.  “President Bush displayed courage and tenacity. He brought this city together and this country together,” she said. “He deserves to be able to speak on September 11th.”

In the same Times story, another signer of the Post letter, Ernest Strada (the Republican mayor of Westbury, New York — and if you read the story, apparently not a very good one) said that he was “really disappointed — appalled — at some elected officials for the attacks on the president for the way he feels about the importance of us remembering” September 11.  “We’re not only here to support our son, we’re here to support the president and to feel good about ourselves.”

Another signer, Frank Siller, donated money from the foundation founded in his brother Stephen’s memory to Oliver North’s Freedom Alliance.

Another, Arlene Howard, is featured on the White House website since Sept. 14, 2001, when she gave her son’s badge to President Bush at a memorial in New York.

Three of the signers, including Boyle and Strada, also show up in this story about 9/11 and Iraq War survivors’ ambivalence about President Bush.

Nothing in the letter says anything at all about the truth of what Clarke was saying; it merely calls his motives into question. (This is characteristic of attacks on Clarke). There seems to have been very little real non-partisanship in this open letter decrying Clarke’s supposed partisanship (for which there is no real evidence anyway). It looks more as if they, by attacking Clarke, were giving their own partisan support to Bush. My guess is, that with a little more research, we’d find that other signers had their own axes to grind.

P.S. (from comments): If you look at the three stories, Mayor Strada appears in all of them, and he brought along six members of his family to sign the letter. My guess is that this is his baby, though Boyle’s position at the top of the signers may mean that he was the one who actually wrote or circulated the letter.

Before someone jumps on me, I should say that Oliver North’s foundation seems to be a genuine charitable group, and not explicitly political. But one suspects that someone who donates to an Oliver North charity is on North’s wavelength otherwise too.

There’s nothing wrong with the letter per se. Except for the claim to be opposing politicization, when the letter is itself political and written to support the politician Bush. And you could add, except for the attack on Clarke’s motives. (Republicans love money, but when other people have it, it’s sinful). And except for the ungrounded claims about Bush’s performance — the letter addresses none of Clarkes’ substantive points. And then, the letter is presumably part of the coordinated effort to disparage the “partisan” activities of Kristin Breitweiser and the other anti-Bush survivors…..

Note that the Newsday editors didn’t let Strada’s speech pass. What they print has obviously been edited down from a longer canned speech: “I’m appalled at what [other politicians ] are doing to Bush. . . . I’m sure that despite political differences, everyone supported the president at that time. Caught in the frenzy of the political season . . . their memories are cloudy.”

Certainly it originally read “I’m appalled at what the politicians are doing to Bush”.