Forget Jamie Gorelick. The member of the 9/11 Commission who most deserves the boot–or at least the swiftest kick in the pants–is former Senator Bob Kerrey.
The man who told PBS newsman Jim Lehrer four years ago that he needed to retire from political life because “it’s time for me to breathe some private air” now won’t stop polluting the public’s airspace. In the past month alone, he has penned blabbermouth op-eds for the Wall Street Journal and New York Times and logged appearances on CBS’s Face the Nation, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Reports, NBC’s Today Show (twice), ABC’s Good Morning America, CNBC’s Capitol Report, and FNC’s On the Record with Greta van Susteren and Hannity & Colmes (twice).
Kerrey’s behavior during the 9/11 hearings–hectoring witnesses, mugging for the cameras, delivering a windy monologue to Dr. Condoleezza Rice (“Dr. Clarke”) and then complaining about his time being “eaten up”–has been abominable. But it was Kerrey’s shameful TV appearance on Monday night alone that should disqualify him as a commissioner on a federal panel investigating the deadliest enemy attack on American soil.
Catapulted back into the limelight thanks to the mass murder of 3,000 innocent men, women, and children, Kerrey took advantage of his terrorist-induced celebrity to appear on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
Now, it would be one thing if Kerrey used his privileged position to inform Stewart’s younger audience of the gravity of the 9/11 panel’s task. But instead, Kerrey yukked it up. First, he dished with Stewart about President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney’s upcoming private meeting with the commission. When Stewart mocked the president’s “buddy system,” Kerrey guffawed: “He is bringing his buddy, that’s exactly right, for safety.” Emboldened by audience applause, Kerrey riffed that it was more like “Screw you, buddy.” Asked by Stewart whether people were really blaming each other over the terrorist attacks during closed hearings, Kerrey snorted: “Oh, Jee-zus, yeah.” More audience approval. (Taking the Lord’s name in vain is always good for a few cheap laughs.)
Next, echoing a profanity uttered earlier in the show, Kerrey blurted out with a clownish grin: “Life is [expletive bleeped].” When Stewart proposed that Kerrey ask the vice president, “What the [expletive bleeped] is wrong with you people?” Kerrey cracked up and promised to use the question. And when Stewart called Attorney General John Ashcroft a “big [expletive bleeped],” Kerrey chortled some more.
After nearly ten minutes of knee-slapping hilarity, it was time for Kerrey to wrap things up. Instead of paying lip service to those who died in the terrorist attacks, Kerrey used his last moments on the program to suck up to Stewart. The Daily Show, Kerrey cooed, was one of the few shows he TiVo’ed. The other, he joked, was [the PBS kids’ show] Boohbah. Ho-ho-ho.
House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R., Mo.) was spot on Tuesday in his reaction to Kerrey’s performance: “His appearance on a program designed to satirize current events proves that Kerrey lacks the seriousness of purpose that this Commission requires and the American people deserve. This is not a laughing matter.”
I would call on 9/11 chairman Tom Kean to rein in Kerrey’s buffoonery. But we already know his response: It’s none of our [expletive bleeped] business.