Saturday, March 10, 2007

Rudy made sure they found the gold. Then he quit looking.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has jumped to the head of the GOP Presidential field, despite not having actually run for any office in nearly a decade (maybe that is why he is so popular).

His biggest plus, according to everyone was his exhibition of leadership on September 11. He got the second biggest accolades for heroism on that day. The biggest of course, were for the first responders, especially the New York Fire Department, which lost 343 of its members. Those who went into the buildings to help others get out of them.

So how are the Firefighters responding to Rudy today? Not well, it turns out. They drafted a letter listing very specific reasons they are not supporting him.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- One of the nation's largest firefighters' unions has accused Republican presidential contender Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, of committing "egregious acts" against firefighters who died in the September 11 terrorist attacks.

In a letter to its members Friday, the International Association of Fire Fighters excoriated Giuliani for his November 2001 decision to cut back the number of firefighters searching the rubble of Ground Zero for the remains of some 300 fallen comrades.

The 280,000-member union accused him of carelessly expediting the cleanup process with a "scoop-and-dump" operation after the recovery of millions of dollars in gold, silver and other assets from the Bank of Nova Scotia that had been buried.

Now granted, by November of 2001, it was certain that no one else would be found alive in the rubble, but it is a fact that only a small portion of the rubble was really searched thoroughly through for remains (and the discovery of several sets of remains since then even in the industrial scale cleanup operation since shows that it would not have been all that hard to find most of them, at least). Don't the family of the real heroes even deserve that?

Well, no, apparently. It is clear that Rudy's biggest concern was to make sure that the gold and silver were found and recovered. After that, nothing else was left that was as important as the reserves of the Bank of Nova Scotia.

So this is a union, and they always back Democrats, right?

No again. It is true that they endorsed John Kerry in 2004 after the Bush administration's promises to fund first responders turned out to be more flourish than substance. But in the 1997 mayoral race, the last time Rudy Giuliani ran for office, he beat Ruth Messinger with their backing and their votes.

It seems that Rudy's leadership on September 11 is a bit overrated. The tragedy itself happened in the heart of the nation's biggest metropolitan area, where the infrastructure remained otherwise intact, and everyone who survived had a home to go back to so there were no refugees. In this regard it was far less of a test of leadership than, for example, Katrina which devastated an entire region, including homes, hospitals and shelters. So the real test of leadership came in the days, weeks and months after the September 11 attacks, and it is clear that once the gold was safely back in the Bank of Nova Scotia, Rudy Giuliani simply turned his back on the real heroes of the day.

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