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Right Opinion

Democrats, Media, and 9/11

Bill Wagner · Sep. 19, 2018

Last week was the 17th anniversary of 9/11, which remains highly personal to those of us in the New York area. So the politicization of it by Democrats and the media made my blood boil. I have a few specific examples (more in a second), but I guess it shouldn’t surprise me because everything, even such sacred events, have become political fodder as the midterms approach. Consider the following just from the past week.

A George Washington University study on the impact of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico came out. Part of the study was to determine the number and nature of deaths that could be attributed to the storm and to provide guidance on how to distribute resources more effectively in future storms. These studies are incredibly complex assessments with thousands of moving parts and also extremely important to public and private planners. But the only thing Democrats and the media zeroed in on was the increase in death-toll estimates related to the storm.

Most folks think of storm deaths as occurring during the storm, like drownings or trauma from flying debris, but the study went further by considering deaths over the ensuing months. If we have a better feel for how most post-storm deaths occurred, it would help us in allocating resources to mitigate them — all a perfectly fine basis for analysis.

Originally, the official number of deaths was perhaps 10-20, and that’s what Trump cited when he visited the island after the storm. But the study noted that the number of “related” deaths was nearly 3,000. Since the number was conveniently coincidental to the 9/11 tally, Democrats and the media had a field day bashing Trump for lying, being insensitive, and being racist. The truth is far more complicated, and none of the parties, Trump included, took the time to explain it.

As an example, the study took a look at the impact of sustained power loss on the elderly, those with heart problems, those cut off by road outages, etc. If folks died due to these post-storm issues, they were in the total.

Trump reverted to his usual “it’s all about me — confront any criticism regardless” mode. His political and personal tit for tat distracted from a teachable moment in which a credible study could give everyone guidance on how to save lives in future storms. He should have risen above it all, explained the numbers, and praised the study. I have no problem explaining how Democrats were spinning the study, but the focus should have been on using the study to improve how we deal with storms in the future. Exhibit A of why it’s so hard to bring logic to problem-solving in today’s political atmosphere.

The Washington Post piled on with an op-ed that focused solely on the number while skewering Trump in the process. But the Post wasn’t satisfied with that. The editors posted another op-ed claiming that Trump was “complicit” in Hurricane Florence. Since Webster’s defines complicit as meaning “involved with others in an illegal activity or wrongdoing,” it’s a tad hard to grasp how Trump could have been conspiring with Mother Nature. The Post goes on to imply that Trump’s policy actions resulted in the hurricane, or at least its severity. Quite an accomplishment after only two years in office.

The Post also claimed that Trump is causing hurricanes to be more frequent and severe than they were 50 years ago, but those facts don’t hold up, either. Storms are actually less frequent and less powerful in the last 50 years than in the prior 50. What has changed is the amount of damage they are causing. However, that’s a function of there being more development. A claim can be made that climate change might be contributing to more dangerous weather patterns, but it might be nice to argue with facts, not rhetoric.  

Not to be outdone, there was a priceless headline in The New York Times last week. It read, “Kushner says punishing Palestinians shortens odds for peace,” and involved an assessment of the prospects for an Israeli/Palestinian peace process following certain moves by the Trump administration, such as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, reducing funding for certain Palestinian aid groups, and shutting down the PLO office in DC. You could argue that these actions could alienate the Palestinians and make a peace deal harder, but you could also argue that continuing to hold out unrealistic expectations for the Palestinians and funding support for terrorism while lining the pockets of the PLO bosses for decades hasn’t worked. So why not try something else and inject a more realistic playing field into the mix?

But many folks don’t read past the headlines, so what was the takeaway from this one? More Times bias — injecting opinion into news stories. First was the pejorative use of the words “punishing Palestinians.” Why weren’t the actions simply legitimate attempts to advance negotiations by recognizing the reality on the ground? The Times could have just substituted “Trump administration actions.” Then we have “shortens odds.” Since I financed some of my college tuition through a combination of backgammon, poker, and Hollywood gin, I actually understand that “shorten” means “makes more probable.” But my guess is the majority of readers think that “shorten” means the opposite.

What Democrats are doing to Brett Kavanaugh is beyond disgraceful. It’s not the accusation itself — even a claim of sexual assault made by a woman about a supposed incident that occurred 35 years ago should be investigated. Bring it out, and let the chips fall where they may. Kavanaugh has vehemently denied everything and is pushing for hearings to clear the air and his name. The accuser may actually believe she is telling the truth. Repressed memories play tricks on the mind, particularly when they are dredged up in a therapy session dealing with marriage problems. It’s the way the accusation found its way into the public domain that’s the problem.

By sitting for three months on an accusation that should have been investigated immediately, it comes across as a political stunt, designed to hit the committee at the eleventh hour when all else failed and delay the hearings and confirmation vote until after the midterms. It was never raised with Kavanaugh at his hearings or behind closed doors, nor was it referred to investigators, which could have cleared things up one way or another months ago. Even Trump is acting like an adult. Instead of an angry tweet on what looks like a Democrat stunt, he has recognized the stakes and is calling for everyone to be heard, even if that delays the process a bit.

This Democrat ploy is a massive disservice to the woman involved. Supposedly, she did not want this to be public, but what did she expect when she came forward? She was destined to be cannon fodder for the Democrat political machine, and the information leaked out in drips according to the playbook until her identity was disclosed and all bets were off. Because the timing and process raise so many eyebrows, it also brings the credibility of the accuser into focus. The facts that she is a Democrat, has contributed to Democrat campaigns, has participated in Democrat-led protest rallies, and scrubbed out any references to politics from her Facebook page just as the info went public all contribute to skepticism about her motives and veracity. Maybe she is a concerned citizen, or maybe a Democrat operative looking for her 15 minutes of Anita Hill fame. That the process has led to this is in itself a disgrace.

And if you think the hearings to date have been a circus, just wait until Monday. The GOP senators will have to walk on egg shells, and it might be best to import a third party to do the questioning. Democrats will grandstand again with questions and #MeToo speeches about powerful men who take advantage of women, etc. But the real circus will be in the peanut gallery as the far-left audience screams “rapist!” You can bet there is a frantic effort going on by Democrats to find (or create) a corroborating witness, but absent that, the likely outcome will be a draw, with both parties coming across as convinced they are right. This is 2018 politics on full display, not some effort to find the truth. And given the current #MeToo atmosphere, there is no guarantee which way the politics will go for the handful of senators who could be on the fence.

John Kerry is everywhere: TV, cable, newspapers, speeches… But he’s also in Tehran discussing with the Iranian chiefs how to wait out Trump’s toppling of the Iran nuke deal. Usually people try to hide the fact that they are blatantly breaking the law, but Kerry is out there bragging about how he is proud to be the poster child for Logan Act violations (can you spell Spartacus?), because the goal is so important — no, not the goal of preserving the nuke deal he negotiated, but the one where his legacy is restored. Granted, Kerry is on a book tour, but since the world continues to use catsup and mustard, the Kerry family really doesn’t need the money. This is all about relevance, legacy, and that most elusive of all senators’ dreams — another run at the White House in 2020.

His boss reentered the fray last week as well. Barack Obama appeared in a few venues where Democrat candidates would let him, not so much to stump for House and/or Senate candidates but to try to rewrite history and one-up Kerry on legacy reservation — anything to avoid being just an asterisk in the history books. We learned that the huge economic revival since Trump took office all resulted from the policies Obama put in place. Ditto the great unemployment numbers (who knew?). In addition, Benghazi was a conspiracy theory, and it is Trump who is using fear and racial division for political purposes, not the guy who left office with race relations in the U.S. having declined significantly from when he was elected. You can’t make this up, and my guess is that we will be seeing Obama less often in the lead-up to November and mostly in safe Democrat districts. After all, it is all about him.

To round out the reemergence of the old guard, Eric Holder, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton tried to grab headlines as well. And don’t think for a second that the ultimate goal wasn’t to keep hope alive for 2020. Until yesterday, there were only two paths to the Democrat nomination for 2020 — either out-yell Bernie Sanders clones, or out-yell the “anti-Trump” crowd. Holder, Hillary, and Biden chose the latter; but then a new approach surfaced — one that tried to thread the needle between the two with a quasi-moderate platform and several billion dollars in the person of Mike Bloomberg. That brings the Democrat field to around 47. It’s going to be fun to watch.

Getting back to the 9/11 references that so infuriated me, there are several examples, but let’s look at just a couple.

First was Joe Scarborough’s op-ed in which he described Trump as “savaging our allies, comforting hostile foreign powers, attacking our military and lending a sympathetic ear to neo-Nazis,” all of which shows that Trump is “doing more damage to the dream of America than any terrorist attack ever could.” Really? Three thousand murdered U.S. citizens is the equivalent of using a flattery negotiating tactic on Kim Jong-un? Joe ends his op-ed by asking people to consider all the above when they vote in November, and I couldn’t agree more. Folks should also consider voting with their feet by changing the TV dial. It wouldn’t take much to turn his ratings from minuscule to nonexistent, and maybe that’s the only way to get MSNBC and its cronies to change their business model and put a stop to disgraceful insults and attacks on Americans like those who were victims of 9/11.

The silver medal went to Sen. Angus King of Maine, who equated 3,000 deaths on 9/11 to Russian meddling in the 2016 elections. That would the Russian meddling that consisted of some fake news plants and the purchase of $100,000 in Facebook ads that changed the votes of zero Americans. This was even more of a head-scratcher, because King usually comes across as a bit more level-headed. But in today’s political game, even the memory of 9/11 victims comes in behind scoring anti-Trump political points.

Finally, we had the Washington Post op-ed by Eugene Robinson. I can’t remember the last time I agreed with him, but he is a respected, award-winning journalist who argues his positions articulately and is worth reading. But this op-ed is entitled “Trump’s Radically un-American Agenda.” That one got my attention. I like most of Trump’s agenda, and I don’t consider myself “un-American,” so what exactly was he talking about?

His reasoning included the following: separating kids from their parents who are trying to enter the country illegally (just as Obama did); wrecking the environment by reducing onerous Obama regulations (so Congress can be pushed to do its job); being in favor of requiring ID to vote; recognizing that religious liberty is part of the Constitution; championing “white supremacy” in the form of an inarticulate but totally accurate comment after Charlottesville that there were good and bad folks on both sides of the debate; placing work requirements on welfare recipients; insulting NATO allies for not paying their fair share, while praising Vladimir Putin and Kim as part of his strategy; and daring to tear up trade deals that hurt the U.S. while pushing for free/fair trade.

These were not related to 9/11, per se, but it came on the same day and insulted the half of America that supports and voted for Trump’s agenda. Now, you can debate each of these and make your case for a different policy, but calling differences of opinion un-American is, well, un-American. Just like pushing the remote or canceling a newspaper subscription may be the only ways to get the media’s attention to shift its coverage to something less than 90% anti-Trump, voting to keep GOP majorities that support the Trump agenda is the only way to keep the country moving in the right direction.

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