The radicalized 9/11 families are one of the strangest phenomena I’ve ever seen.
Their red hot anger–directed not at the fanatics who attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon but at the Americans who performed heroically, if not perfectly, on that awful day–has dominated the hearings of the 9/11 in New York.
When Rudy Giuliani, whose leadership inspired a horribly wounded New York on that awful day, was called to testify Tuesday, Sally Regenhard, whose firefighter son died that day, yelled at the former mayor, “My son was murdered because of your incompetence!” Mrs. Regenhard displayed a sign that claimed Giuliani’s testimony was “Fiction.” Another 9/11 family member held a sign that said that those who perished “deserved the privilege of a warning.”
Do these people think that Giuliani had advance warning and could have done more? Is this a reference to the vague presidential briefing paper of August that Giuliani didn’t receive and that, had he received it, was so nebulous that it would have caused no changes in policy?
“[A] measure of how far we’ve come from the unity and resolve that resulted from the 9/11 attacks was the venom some audience members directed at former New York City mayor Rudy Guiliani,” writes Paul Beston of the American Spectator. “Here was a local official in charge of no intelligence organizations and with no military at his command. That he and his police and fire commissioners have become targets is proof that the purpose of these hearings is both to fix blame and to provide another venue for the victims’ families grief and rage.”
As Beston noted, it wasn’t just the families who were behaving badly. There was the insufficiently camera shy commissioner John Lehman’s remark that the emergency response that day was “not worthy of Boy Scouts, let alone a great city.” Mistakes were made, but the commission has certainly not been able to make such a determination.
“‘In television, they call such wretched excess jumping the shark,” writes Beston, “meaning the point of silliness beyond which a program is no longer viable. The term comes from an episode of Happy Days when Fonzie, wearing his ubiquitous leather jacket, jumped over a shark on water skis. Unfortunately, while the 9/11 Commission is about as substantive as a sitcom, it is not nearly as funny.”