I got to thinking about that famous quote
this week as I read about the fawning reception for Rudy Giuliani at the Civitas Institute
and about George Tenet’s 4 million dollar book advance.
Here’s what I wonder about.
Since when is it OK for a public official to preside over a disaster and then be paid millions of dollars to tell us about it?
Giuliani received 8 million dollars in speaking fees
in 2002 after 9/11.
Now his business group, Giuliani Partners, makes millions “consulting” on security matters.
I mean, who declared him a security expert
Now I don’t blame Giuliani for 9/11, but does anyone think New York City was well prepared for the disaster from a security standpoint?
Wasn’t it Rudy who stubbornly decided to put the new emergency command center in one of the World Trade Center buildings?
We all know how that worked out.
9/11 has often been called our generation’s “Pearl Harbor.” Here’s one difference. Both senior commanders at Pearl Harbor, Navy Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, and Army Lt. General Walter C. Short, were relieved of their duties following the attack. Subsequent investigations faulted the men for failing to adopt adequate defense measures. Both men are demoted and retire in disgrace.
Neither man went on a book tour. Neither man was asked to give a primetime speech at their party’s political convention. Neither man was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom. I guess FDR knew a thing or two about leadership and accountability in wartime.
Now, back to the attendees at the Civitas Institute for Giuliani’s speech. How many of the conservative members, do you think, have called John Edwards a greedy “ambulance chaser?” Let’s think about Giuliani and Edwards for a moment.
Giuliani presides over a disaster, where a plausible argument can be made that he bears some responsibility. 3000 Americans die. Rudy decides to work within our capitalist system to maximize the tragedy for his own financial and personal gain.
Edwards, on the other hand, works with families who have been injured through medical negligence or defective products. He helps them navigate our judicial system as they seek due process for their injuries. True, there is significant financial reward for Edwards, but there is societal good in his role as advocate for those who are less powerful, so that they may seek justice within our legal system. After all, are we not a nation of laws?
Which man has faced adversity and acted with greater honor? Which man has exhibited greater character? Which man has acted with a greater sense of decency, sir? These are the questions we must honestly ask of ourselves and our public servants.