Setting aside politics on September 11

Today marks the anniversary of the attacks of September 11. I can’t bring myself to write about any other political news today without first acknowledging this day that saw both the best and the worst of humanity.

I don’t want to write about where I was that morning (on a plane), nor about how the war on terror has changed everything in American politics (yet very little in how we live our day-to-day lives), but I do want to recognize how news organizations and campaigns decided to honor 9/11.

John McCain’s website has a graphic reading, “Remember 9.11.01” and a button, “Serve A Cause Greater Than Self,” that links to a page with various volunteer organizations like the Red Cross and Americorps. Barack Obama uses his gift with language:

Today, we honor the memory of the lives that were lost on September 11, 2001, and grieve with the families and friends who lost someone they loved in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania…. On 9/11, Americans across our great country came together to stand with the families of the victims, to donate blood, to give to charity, and to say a prayer for our country. Let us renew that spirit of service and that sense of common purpose. Let us remember that the terrorists responsible for 9/11 are still at large, and must be brought to justice. Let us resolve to defeat terrorist networks, defend the American homeland, stand up for the enduring American values that we cherish, and seek a new birth of freedom at home and around the world.

The New York Times has coverage of the annual ceremony at ground zero in the featured spot on their website. Amazingly, the Wall Street Journal barely acknowledges the event, with nothing more than a mention in the bottom left of their front page that reads, “9/11 Is Remembered Across the Country.” That’s it. No accompanying story, no pictures. The ad for Dell’s new Latitude laptop takes up more space.

In Colorado, neither Mark Udall* nor Bob Schaffer have anything different from their normal campaign website. Not even a press release or blog entry honoring the day. Weird.

The Denver Post has a story about what various people were doing at the time of the attacks, and the Rocky has a story about tributes taking place in New York and Washington, as well as a link to live coverage of the 9/11 memorial service in New York. The Rocky also notes, “McCain and Obama planned to visit the site [in NYC] after the ceremony concluded this afternoon. The candidates agreed weeks ago to pull their campaign ads for the day and were appearing together tonight at a forum on volunteerism and service.”

At least for this one day both candidates can put politics aside and focus on what brings us together instead of what tears us apart.

Colorado Independent’s blogumnist (blogger-columnist) Jeff Bridges has worked in Democratic politics for the last 10 years, serving as communications director for two congressional races in Colorado and two governor’s races in the Deep South. Bridges also worked as a legislative assistant in Washington, D.C., with a focus on military and small business issues.

Read Jeff’s latest commentaries.

*[CORRECTION: Mark Udall’s congressional office issued a statement recognizing the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Our apologies to Rep. Udall. – Ed.]

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Jeff Bridges

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