Giuliani's "Political Exploitation" of 9-11?

The Times is determined to limit any political gains Republican Rudy Giuliani gets for 9-11: "...there have been renewed questions about the fuzzy line between somber remembrance and political exploitation...." Did the Times show similar concern when John Kerry exploited his Vietnam service during 2004?

The Times is determined to minimize any political traction Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani gets for his leadership after 9-11. Marc Santora's Monday "Political Memo," "In Campaign Year, Invoking 9/11 Raises New Debates," suggested Giuliani is misleading voters by breaking some kind of promise not to talk about his leadership as mayor of New York City after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

"During a Republican presidential debate on Wednesday, Rudolph W. Giuliani asserted, 'The reality is that I'm not running on what I did on Sept. 11.'

"Two days later, a crowd of nearly 1,000 filed into a ballroom here for a 9/11 Remembrance Luncheon. Graphic images of the exploding towers, dust-covered survivors and even a series of photos that showed someone leaping from a tower were flashed on two giant screens flanking the stage where Mr. Giuliani was about to speak.

"'America must never forget the lessons of Sept. 11,' Mr. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, later told the crowd.

"As the anniversary of the attacks nears, Mr. Giuliani has been talking in more personal detail than usual about that day. In so doing, there have been renewed questions about the fuzzy line between somber remembrance and political exploitation, this time amplified by his presidential candidacy."

But where were these complaints about "exploitation" when Democrat John Kerry milked his three months in Vietnam for all it was worth - a period far less relevant to the electorate than Giuliani's 9-11 leadership?

(Back in 2002, future candidate Kerrytold Times columnist and future Times executive editor Bill Keller that he had "no intention" of using film footage he'd taken of himself in Vietnam for campaign purposes.Kerry did, of course. Not only did the Times not call the candidate on this, the paper seemed to find it distasteful when TimesWatch brought it up.)

More from Santora on Monday:

"Mr. Giuliani's aides acknowledge that there is a line that should not be crossed - although their definition of that line is probably different from that of his opponents. And recently, his invoking of Sept. 11 has boomeranged, as others have raised questions about his claims of being at ground zero more than rescue workers who have said their exposure to the site made them ill."

By contrast, the Times didn't suggest Kerry's Vietnam boasting had "boomeranged" when the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth started poking holes in his medal citations. Instead, the Times constantly blasted the allegations from the Swift Boat Veterans as "unsubstantiated," while never questioning Kerry's war record or medals.

Of course, the Times is quite comfortable questioning Giuliani's 9-11 leadership, as Santora went on to prove in his piece:

"When the Republicans held their nominating convention in New York City in 2004, the party swathed itself in Sept. 11 imagery, and Mr. Giuliani gave a speech that mixed his experiences that day with a broadside attack on the Democratic nominee, Senator John Kerry. While Democrats complained about what they saw as a blatant exploitation of the attacks, few prominent figures criticized Mr. Giuliani directly....And while Mr. Giuliani has been a regular presence at past Sept. 11 commemorations at ground zero, his plan to attend this year has drawn criticism from some survivors and relatives of victims who have raised questions about his leadership both before and after the attacks."