Who's Behind Whitman?
Surrounding the emotion of the 9/11 anniversary was the back-and-forth over between ex-EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman and the Mayor and his team about the air quality at Ground Zero. The opening salvo came in a well-timed 60 Minutes package on the eve of 9/11:
The former head of the Environmental Protection Agency claimed in an interview released yesterday that then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani's aides ignored her warnings that workers at Ground Zero should wear respirators after the 9/11 attacks to protect their health.
"We always said consistently, 'You've got to wear protective gear,'" Whitman tells Katie Couric in the CBS anchor's first "60 Minutes" interview, to be aired Sunday.
"We didn't have the authority to do that enforcement, but we communicated [the need to wear respirators] to the people who did," said Whitman, adding that the danger to workers on The Pile at Ground Zero was made clear to City Hall in "no uncertain terms."
"It doesn't make any sense to point fingers," Giuliani said. ...
"Given the fact they were all injured as a result of their work here, they all should be taken care of, and the city government should be part of it, and the state government should be part of it, and the federal government should be part of it," Giuliani said to "Good Morning America."
First, who comes off as the paper-pushing bureaucrat here ("we didn't have the authority to do that enforcement") and who comes off as the compassionate leader doing what needs to be done ("they should all be taken care of")?
But moreover: political attacks like this don't just materialize out of thin air. With the anniversary of the attacks looming and a potential Giuliani candidacy months away, isn't it convenient that Whitman comes out of the woodwork to trash Rudy?
Whitman has tried to position herself as something of a power broker in the moderate wing of the Republican Party, releasing a book trashing the President shortly after his re-election and establishing a PAC. If memory serves, John McCain once served on the advisory board of It's My Party Too PAC, but he wisely removed himself. A couple of his big money people are still on it (Lew Eisenberg and James Nicholson). The list otherwise reads like a who's who of the RINO establishment, with a few surprises, like Bob Dole and former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson.
When Whitman recently traveled to New Hampshire, it was whispered that she might be considering a dark-horse Presidential bid of her own, but more than likely she's a stalking horse for another campaign (McCain? Pataki?) wishing to undermine America's Mayor.
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Today, Mayor Giuliani made the rather dramatic announcement that he, his wife, and a number of aides too might eventually be affected by 9/11 respiratory disorders because of countless days they spent around the smoldering rubble of Ground Zero.
I don't think there's anything a desk jockey like Whitman can say to that.
Rudy was down on The Pile with his men. He put his health at the same risk like they did -- and the rescue workers were doing what had to be done, helping save lives. This is the mark of a true leader.
Those trying to make this an issue out of this forget that we are at war and the homeland is a front in that war. Our troops don't have the benefit of OSHA and EPA protections before going out on patrol in Baghdad. The workers bravely leading the rescue did what had to be done, despite the obvious danger, and despite having to endure conditions never before seen in any American city.
For that they should be treated as heroes, not unwitting victims.