Whitman's Testimony From The Perspective Of A Republican Strategist

Whitman stood up to panel bent on assessing 9/11 blame

Source: app.com

Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 07/1/07

Agree with her or not. Like her politics or despise them. But former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman deserves points for going before a congressional panel last week to answer questions about her role and that of the Environmental Protection Agency that she headed in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

Whitman had to know she hadn't a friend in the room and that the hostile members of Congress were going to be pumped up by an audience stacked with people who were eager to continue to blame her for every health problem encountered since 9/11. Yet, she sat for three hours, answering questions and doing her utmost to fend off the snide comments and accusations that she had lied, failed and bore responsibility for the deteriorating health of hundreds of people who worked in or around the Trade Center rubble.

For most of the members of the panel, questioning Whitman was an opportunity they relished, even if it was nearly six years later.

First, they could be ferociously partisan while cloaking themselves in the self-righteous mantle of a quest for truth.

Second, it didn't require a high concentration of intellectual firepower to come up with questions about arguably the most cataclysmic event in American history.

Third, it was more high profile than the hearings or committee meetings any of them had ever been a part of.

To a person, their questions and accusations supported the belief that looking back and criticizing the actions of others in a crisis is far easier and more rewarding than looking forward toward finding answers and solutions.

After all, for some, their idea of a crisis is waiting an extra 10 minutes for a table in the congressional dining room at lunch hour, or getting a lousy tee time for a lobbyist-financed golf outing.

They were not at the center of a tragedy so immense it still sends shivers through one's body. None of them was called upon to make rapid and crucial decisions in the midst of unfathomable chaos. None of them was required to make judgments about whether additional and bloodier terrorist attacks were imminent. None of them was subjected to the mind-bending pressures of knowing that each decision could impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans.

Whitman was part of an administration that was.

On Monday, committee members worked themselves into indignation overdrive, postured and played to the cheap seats by attacking her and claiming that she should be held singularly responsible for the illnesses and deaths that have befallen many of those who labored at Ground Zero.

It was an altogether pitiful performance, exposing some members of the panel as political hacks.

Whitman testified that her actions and comments with regard to the air quality in the immediate vicinity of Ground Zero were based on evidence and studies submitted by scientists whose expertise exceeded hers, not to mention the members of the committee.

Her accusers responded by citing medical studies demonstrating that serious respiratory ailments could be traced to the fouled air hanging over the rubble pile. If those studies are valid, the committee — and the public — would have been better served if the scientists advising Whitman had been called to justify their reports.

That wouldn't, however, have made for the kind of theater the committee obviously sought by calling Whitman and attempting to shift blame and responsibility to the Bush administration generally.

Whitman stood up under the congressional assault, responded with anger at some points and made clear that the decisions she reached and the actions she took relied on the best information available to her.

It is, of course, quite easy to look back six years later and argue that things could have and should have been done differently. But, that's what members of Congress are best at, particularly if they can put some cheap political points up on the scoreboard.

No one has suggested that every decision made in the hours and days immediately following the attacks was the best and correct one. Under the circumstances, that's an impossibility.

But, it's an insult to the memories of those who died on 9/11, to their families and to those who today suffer ill effects from the attacks to see members of Congress question as if the American government and some of its leaders undertook a deliberate and conscious effort to harm or kill its citizens.

No one — not President Bush, not Whitman, not members of Congress — is immune from being subjected to criticisms for their deeds. It is, however, the phony indignation, the snide comments, the feigned disbelief that undermine any claim to legitimate criticism.

Last week's hearing proved that.

Carl Golden, a Republican strategist and consultant, was director of communications for Gov. Christine Todd Whitman from 1994 to 1997.

Imperial Presidency, indeed

"But former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman deserves points for going before a congressional panel last week to answer questions about her role..."

So that's where things are at in America. Politicians are to be congratulated for answering questions about their roles as public servants?

It's an "insult" to the victims, to interrogate the head of the EPA about statements she made about the environment?


What a load of crap! She is a first-rate shirker, obfuscator...oh, not to forget...and LIAR!