Ocean County, N.J., resident James Zadroga has twice earned a place in history.
First, the police detective distinguished himself as one of the selfless people who toiled in the ruins of the World Trade Center following the Sept. 11 attacks, sifting through the wreckage for hundreds of hours.
Zadroga's second service to the public came last week when his relatives released the autopsy results showing that he, like at least two dozen other Ground Zero workers, suffered crippling and eventually fatal damage to his body while Christie Whitman, then the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, cheerily said the toxin-laden air of Lower Manhattan was perfectly safe to breathe, despite abundant evidence to the contrary.
Whitman has been named in a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of the Ground Zero workers and residents of Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn who were exposed to the witch's brew of toxins unleashed by the incineration of the Twin Towers. A few months ago, Whitman tried to get her name dropped from the suit, prompting this response from U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts:
No reasonable person would have thought that telling thousands of people that it was safe to return to lower Manhattan, while knowing that such return could pose long-term health risks and other dire consequences, was conduct sanctioned by our laws.
Whitman's book It's My Party Too is now out in paperback, so we’ll be seeing more of her as she makes the rounds promoting her vision of a GOP ruled once again by middle of the road Republicans. I guess "moderation" means tempering rapacity with smoothness — in Whitman’s case, it certainly means being moderate with the truth.
I encourage anyone who sees her to ask about James Zadroga, who died after years of using an oxygen tank to keep himself functioning, and how assisting in the Bush administration's betrayal of some of the bravest Americans we'll ever see qualifies her even to show her face in public, much less give speeches on "moderate" politics.