2004-05-06 / View From the Middle

View From

The Middle
By Charles Rogers
Partisan Class Shows As 2 Panelists Walk Out President
View From The Middle By Charles Rogers Partisan Class Shows As 2 Panelists Walk Out President

By Charles Rogers
Partisan Class Shows As 2 Panelists Walk Out President

What arrogance! What an abject, degrading disrespect for the highest office in the land was on display last Thursday when two members of the panel of the 9/11 Commission abruptly walked out after only two-thirds of the questioning process was over. They didn’t walk out because they were angry, or in disagreement with the people being questioned. It was because they had personal appointments they supposedly couldn’t break.

It figures!

Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey and ex-Indiana Representative Lee Hamilton, both Democrats (of course!), excused themselves from the interrogation of President Bush and Vice President Cheney after only two hours of the three hours and 10 minutes session, which was termed "productive."

Kerrey, who heads the New School in Manhattan, said he had to handle "private business" with Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico in order to secure funding for the school. Hamilton said he had to meet the Canadian prime minister at a ceremonial event.

Musn’t keep those other parties waiting, right? This was only the president of the United States sitting in front of you! This was only a meeting with him and the vice president that panelists had lobbied and cajoled and pleaded for in the past; something the president didn’t want and finally relented; a hearing that at one time was to have lasted a strict two hours but was going so well that it was extended to an "open end."

But Kerrey and Hamilton didn’t have time to continue it. Unbelievable! Later, reports said they didn’t think the session with the 9/11 Committee would last so long and they, therefore, went ahead and made their respective appointments. It should be noted that Kerrey sought the permission of the commission’s chairman, Tom Kean, and he said it was okay.

Which makes him another disrespectful idiot!

Maybe the fact that there were no TV cameras there and no official record made of the testimony (at the president’s request) Kerrey and Kean and Hamilton felt they wouldn’t be getting enough press. It’s a fact that, although Kean and Hamilton are not necessarily overbearing in the mugging department, Kerrey seems to shine when he’s in the spotlight. No TV cameras; no pushing press; no Kerrey.

There are indeed some people whose very demeanor commands respect. I would call to mind, perhaps, Winston Churchill. Maybe Thomas Edison. Alexander the Great, would have been one and, oh, yes, Alistair Cooke, if you will. We all know that George W. Bush is not one of those! Whether he’s on an aircraft carrier in front of a sign saying "Mission Accomplished" or standing near bull dung in Crawford, Texas, this is not your ever-lovin’ symbol of respect.

But his office is.

And the contempt heaped upon it last week by two members of a supposedly "respected" committee was a despicable insult. It took only a phone call by an aide to Domenici and to the Canadian prime minister that they were still in session with the president of the United States and nothing would have been said. I’m sure the respective gentlemen would have understood.

Instead, Kerrey and Hamilton — and Chairman Kean — showed their disgraceful, partisan class — or lack of it.

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