Normally it would be a no-brainer to understand why a GOP member from Pennsylvania would be sticking up for former Governor Tom Ridge. Honestly, it would take pages to explain why this is bizarre in my case, but suffice to say that anyone who has known me since the late-nineties through 2001 would definitely catch the irony on this one.
In spite of any differences I had with the man when he was our governor, I've recently learned a new respect for him. Ridge is one of the "outside-insiders" of the Bush administration. Public (and apparently press) perceptions of his being in the know about the inner-workings of the national security and war plans in the White House immediately following 9/11 are just downright wrong.
True, he was given the job of securing our country, and theoretically it would make sense that he would have known everything about the plans to invade Iraq (as Rachel Maddow and Paul Rosenberg undoubtedly assumed.) However, I'm not buying that, if for no other reason, he honestly didn't have the time.
I've been reading Ridge's book The Test of Our Times, and intend to post more on it later. On this specific issue, at the time when the conversations were happening about starting a war Iraq, Ridge was busy working with his staff to protect us from potential retaliation. Before that, he wasn't privy to meetings with Rumsfeld, no matter how much people may think otherwise. What little face time Ridge got with him was literally in the hallways.
As for his continual backing of the party line on the issues surrounding the war, it really isn't about what he's saying. No one is asking the right question. I would be curious to know what his reply would be if he was really cornered - which he hasn't been. The right question isn't whether or not he agrees with or believes in the canned stories from the Bush administration. He didn't witness these discussions, so in his mind, he has no choice but to tow the party line. However, I wonder what his response would be if someone bothered to point out that he wasn't privy to those discussions, and then asked, based on his experience in Homeland Security, whether or not the canned story is honestly plausible to the point that he would have suggested increasing our alert level to Red. It is a hypothetical question, and I believe the gentleman would answer truthfully.
And that is the real sticky point in this. Ridge is in the end one of a dying breed - a gentleman politician. He is by no means stupid, and the fact that he has avoided answering the tough questions is a testament to that. He has managed to tell the truth as he witnessed it (bearing in mind that he really didn't witness as much as most people would think.) Ridge knows more than he's said, but to date, his lies are solely those of omission - primarily omitting that he was not present when certain situations occurred, so he's sticking with the official story.
X-posted from Everything in Its Own Time