One of the main attributes John Kerry should be looking for in a running mate should be the tenacity and courage to stand up to President Bush and fight for the public. Kerry also needs someone who will be perceived as "tough" on national security in a post-9/11 world.
I recommend Kristen Breitweiser, a New Jersey "housewife" whose husband Ronald was killed at the World Trade Center. With little formal power, she has battled the full force of the Bush White House for more than two years — and I don't think anyone would dare tell her she was "soft" on terrorism.
Plus, hey, it's been 20 years since there's been a woman on the ticket.
The downside — apart from New Jersey not being a swing state — is that Breitweiser would be unlikely to accept the offer. Although the post would grant her a platform from which she might finally be able to get some answers, she's adamantly opposed to the politicization of what happened on Sept. 11, 2001.
Here, for instance, is what she told Salon's Eric Boehlert in response to reports that the Republican Convention in New York City might stage some of its events at Ground Zero:
It's totally inappropriate. … The president won't testify before the entire 9/11 commission, he won't testify under oath, and he fought the creation of the commission for one year. So for him to have the audacity to even think of going to Ground Zero is absolutely deplorable. That's sacred ground. That's solemn, holy ground where my husband and 3,000 others were murdered. It doesn't belong to politics.
One can only imagine her response, then, to President Bush's new advertising blitz which, The New York Times' Jim Rutenberg reports, includes lots of imagery from the terrorist attacks:
Three of the four commercials unveiled feature images of the smoldering and charred shell of the World Trade Center still standing; one also shows firefighters emerging from the wreckage carrying a stretcher draped with an American flag, presumably covering remains.
Calpundit has the video, you can watch the ads for yourself here.
It seems like the Bush administration is actually embracing some of the proposed slogans from TBogg's recent contest, such as Curt Marwitz's suggestion:
"Bush & Cheney: Keeping America Terrorist-Free Since Sept. 12, 2001"
Or this from Rogue Planet:
"Bush/Cheney, Keeping Us Safe: Terrorists will not attack us and kill 2800 innocent people on our soil and destroy the WTC and smash the Pentagon more than once on our watch!"
I realize that by this point I shouldn't still be surprised, appalled and flummoxed by the way the Bush administration embraces its most horrific failure as its proudest success, but, well, I'm still surprised, appalled and flummoxed.
As David Pototari, co-director of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, says to Salon's Boehlert:
"It's a symbol of failure. … The president is charged with defending this country, and literally nothing was done during the two hours of attack to defend the county. I've never been able to understand how Republicans have turned this tragedy into a victory."
The independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks is refusing to accept strict conditions from the White House for interviews with President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney and is renewing its request that Mr. Bush's national security adviser testify in public, commission members said Tuesday.
The panel members, interviewed after a private meeting on Tuesday, said the commission had decided for now to reject a White House request that the interview with Mr. Bush be limited to one hour and that the questioners be only the panel's chairman and vice chairman.
Shenon also reports, however, that:
Commission officials said that if the White House continued to insist on limitations on the interviews with Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, there might be little that the panel could do to force the issue and that the commission might have to accept the White House's terms.
Little they can do? The panel needs to realize that it has at its disposal enormous moral clout. Media in this country may be corporatized, incurious and lazy, but we still have a free press and if this panel wanted to make some noise, by God, it could really make some noise.
If the panel wants to force the issue, all it needs is a telephone, a microphone or a megaphone and the judicious use of a few of the following key phrases: "shirking"; "stonewalling"; "uncooperative"; "refusal to answer"; "acts like he has something to hide"; "has us wondering what it is he's afraid to talk about."
That would force the issue nicely. As another 9/11 widow, Lori Van Auken, tells Boehlert:
If you're proud of your actions, you explain what happened. … If you're not proud, you do it behind closed doors with two commissioners for one hour.
All of which brings us to today's question:
The Family Steering Committee of the 9/11 Independent Commission would like to ask President Bush:
Is it normal procedure for the Director of the White House Situation Room to travel with you? If so, please cite any prior examples of when this occurred. If not normal procedure, please explain the circumstances that led to the Director of the White House Situation Room being asked to accompany you to Florida during the week of September 11.
(As I said, some of the FSC's questions are rather provocative. They're trying, you see, to "force the issue.")