September 11, 2007
WAR: Remind Me Again Where Eliot Spitzer Is Governor Of?
Eliot Spitzer's remarks today at the September 11 memorial service:
We stand on this terrible threshold remembering all that happened. We feel today as we felt then, that we belong to one another, not because we are inhabitants of the same city or same country but because we are all part of the same human story, part of one community of our fellow human beings. John Dunne wrote these immortal words centuries ago: "No man is an island, entire of itself. Every man is a piece of the continent, apart of the main, any man's death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee."
Well, actually no, Eliot. You are a Governor. Which means you are elected by a particular group of people, who share a basic social contract of self-government (I know it's hard to get used to that after thinking you were Attorney General of the entire financial world, but there we have it). Now, we New Yorkers are indeed a diverse lot, as people come here from all throughout the nation and the world. But that doesn't change the fact that we belong to each other because we share a city, a state, and a nation; to the contrary, the fact that so many of your constituents are New Yorkers by choice means precisely that any notion of belonging to one another is about more than just common humanity; it is, instead, a compact grounded in common values, values we can choose to accept, or reject.
The men who flew those planes into our neighborhood rejected them. And they would reject you, Governor Spitzer, and never forget that. They would reject you first of all for your faith, which is certainly the first thing that would pop in their heads while sawing off yours, which they would gladly do if given the opportunity. They would reject you for your city, which they attacked, and your nation, which stands in their way.
We New Yorkers may be a broad-minded lot, but when the day is done, like any other people anywhere, we take care of our own. We elect people who swear to do that, even at times people we do not particularly like. You were not asked to speak at a memorial service for the hijackers (notice the absence of reading of their names?), or for humanity at large. You were asked to speak at a memorial for our neighbors. Whose families and friends are gathered here, because those who died were their family and friends.
I would offer Rudy Giuliani's statement at the same service as a more appropriate way to offer some general, non-controversial sentiments without descending into this swamp of moral equivalence in which we care not who died, or why:
On this day six years ago and on the days that followed, in the midst of our great grief and turmoil, we also witnessed uncompromising strength and resilience as a people. It was a day with no answers, but with an unending line of those who came forward to try to help one another. Elie Wiesel wrote this about the blackest night a human being can know: "I have learned two lessons in my life. First, there are no significant literary, psychological or historical answers to human tragedy, only moral ones. Second, just as despair can come to one another only from other human beings, hope too can be given to one only by other human beings."
God bless America.
As James Lileks once put it, speaking of former Minnesota Senator Mark Dayton:
It's as if people of Dayton's ilk believe they're really Senators in some transnational body that represents the world, not a weirdly-shaped state with its head jammed up against the broad flat butt of Canada. I'm starting to think they're all Senators from the United Federation of Planets, and soon the Temporal Police will show up and take them back to the future.
Governor, by those sentiments, you are no family, no friend of ours. We need someone who understands that our Governor is supposed to be on our side, and not just on the side of "humanity" in general.
With the problems he's already facing, that punk Spitzer is practically begging to be a one term wonder by making a speech like this.
I don't see him lasting the term.
abe, I gotta disagree.
Shelley wants Spitz right there, getting hit by the lightening bolts, for as long as he can make Eliot twist in the wind.
I was surrounded by English, Indians, Germans, French, Russians and more that day - even though the other New Yorkers around me knew what this meant more, and our grief was more tangible - their emotion existed as well. And it helped knowing that each of them felt sorrow, and anger - and my friends who were in different places around the world felt similar things, from a host of different people.
It would have helped more for Spitzer to discount those men from humanity - then, maybe, you wouldn't feel this way. However, I can go through today without any mention of them, from any public figure - and just have the memories of the friends I lost, and the people who were around me.
I'm lost. What, exactly, did Spitzer say that got your red, white & blue panties in a wad, Crank?
Was it his neglect to say "God Bless America"? Does it make me unpatriotic that I give a damn about the other 5.7 billion folks on earth who weren't as lucky as me to be born American?
I'm with Mike on this one. What exactly was wrong with Spitzer's comments? How did he dis New Yorkers in his speech?
TC, the cover up is so JV, not ready for prime time. Impossible for me to believe they go to such lengths unless the Gov was red handed. For years I've noted the enemies the Bulldozer was happily creating. Deep pockets, revenge, and Fred Dicker at the Post will break it wide open. Cuomo is biding his time, but he will be the one to drop the hammer.
Our generation has lost the fire in the belly that our parents had when their nation was attacked. Only six years after the worst terror attack on American soil, and we just shake our head sadly as if the WTC attacks were the equivalent of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis; a perfect storm of errors and neglect.
Yeats' poem comes to mind: "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."
All this Kumbaya stuff won't get you anywhere with guys with scimitars who won't think twice about separating your body from your head based solely on the fact that you don't revere their prophet.
Someone is very funny with the use of my uncreative screen name. I have not even read this.
I fail to see the controversy here. Do you think more hatred and despise is really what is required to solve this problem? I'm not naive that there are not people who have become bad people through their life experiences, and therefore need to be dealt with in order to maintain a civil society, but hatred is not part of any solution. Nor is "us v. them".
So Spitzer's offense was that he was not sufficiently partisan, jingoistic or insular?
Whatever. Democrats, if they're allowed anywhere near Ground Zero, need to sit on their hands and keep their mouths shut, and let the manly men make the speechs I guess.
The part that offended me was suggesting that our grief for the victims should be somehow totally disconnected from their status as New Yorkers and people working here. As if it were somehow improper to mourn especially for our own.
If the rest of us are wondering, "Where's Spitzer going with this?", then the kumbaya crowd gets to read their own little psychodrama into his words.
That day is not the day for "Every man's death diminishes me." There is a clear line here between those who died and those who need to die, but Spitzer won't touch that. He knows what crowd he's playing to.
Crank's incessant whining proves that P.C. is not just a left-wing phenomenon.
I think Crank and the others are correct. Spitzer was insufficiently insensitive to the emotional needs of all the tough guys who piss red-white-and-blue, take names, kick ass, and thank God before they go to bed for making them American.
Therefore, as penance for agreeing initial with that communard Spitzer, I've taken the time to re-write his speech. Here goes (and apologies to John Donne, that America-hater -- oh, and Hemingway too. Friggin' wuss):
No man is an island.
Except an American man. He is an island, muthaf**ka, and the bell's about to toll for your ass, raghead.
I have to agree with other commenters, that I am not sure what set you off here. The point of Spitzer's comments does not seem all that different than the point of Giuliani's. When Giuliani refers to "an unending line of those who came forward to try to help one another," how are we to assume that he speaking just of New Yorkers, and not of the outpouring of support that we received from all over the world (if only briefly). Why would one immediately assume that Spitzer's statement that "we are are all part of the same human story" is a statement of the support for the hijackers (I do not know where you got that) rather than a recollection of the same outpouring of support that Giuliani referenced. I generally appreciate the thoughtfulness of your analysis on various topics, even when I do not agree with you (which is often). But you disappoint me here, because you seem intent on twisting the comments of Spitzer, a politician you do not support, while praising the comments of Giuliani, a politician you support more, when both are saying basically the same thing.