Published on -9/16/2012, 8:08 AM
Kansas Rep. Eber Phelps, D-Hays -- who is a person I like, admire and respect -- leveled a scathing charge this week that should not go unchallenged.
In reference to a candidate forum that took place Tuesday, which was the anniversary of 9/11, Eber said: "It is my intention to attend church services this afternoon to pray for the souls of the people who died in the attack, and I won't be going to a political event that is intended to capitalize on tragedy. There are plenty of opportunities to engage in partisan politics, but the anniversary of the worst disaster to strike the American people in this century is not one of them. I would encourage others to attend the church of their choice and remember the many innocent people who lost their lives."
The inaccuracies in his statement are astounding. First, it was not a partisan event. It was bipartisan. All the candidates were invited -- Democrats and Republicans -- and except for Eber Phelps, everyone attended.
Next, it was not timed to coincide with the 9/11 anniversary. The Big First Tea Party, which organized the forum, meets regularly on the second Tuesday of every month, which fell on the 11th of this month. It most certainly was not an effort to "capitalize on tragedy." What a scandalous and unwarranted accusation.
Let me tell you about the American way, Eber. We grieve when innocent lives are lost, but we do not quit. We pick up the pieces and move ahead when tragedy strikes. I cannot imagine an event more appropriate on 9/11 than a candidate forum, where citizens educate themselves in order to cast an informed vote for the benefit of their community.
I'm especially amazed that it did not occur to Eber that in denouncing the forum, he was also denouncing all his fellow Democrats who attended. In fact, Eber did exactly what he falsely accused the Big First Tea Party of doing. He used the anniversary of a national tragedy to score political points.
It was a cheap shot, Eber.
I do commend you for praying for the victims of 9/11. But of course, like the other candidates -- both Republicans and Democrats -- you could have done both.