Thank God, everyone who was injured in the Chelsea bomb blast on Saturday, September 17, has left the hospital. We New Yorkers were lucky, honestly, really blessed considering the power of the blast. As the event unfolded, politics went on my news-junkie back burner for a few moments.
The night of the blast, I rode a Citi-bike over to Fifth Avenue and 23rd street, where people had gathered. There, you really couldn’t see much of anything, other than the nervous unease an event such as this one inflicts on New Yorkers. And then came reports of a second device on 27th street. A sense of dread fell over my body, for all sorts of obvious reasons. I headed back downtown, towards the Manhattan Bridge. While riding through the East Village, Lower East Side and into Chinatown I felt uneasy, worried that danger was lurking all around us.
Later, it became clear, that whatever asshole or group of assholes who committed this crime, was basically an amateur. The physical damage from the pressure cooker bomb was minimal. But, the psychological damage is ongoing. Still it’s manageable. It’s put our city back on high alert mode, which means we’ll see more of the city’s police force on the street and that’s reassuring. And, we’ll all be watching our streets, subways and even our fellow New Yorkers just a bit more closely. That’s okay. Vigilance has served New York City well over the past 15 years since 9/11/2001. We aren’t a paranoid people. You can’t live here and coddle danger or give credence to sensational headlines.
That said, I’d wager that the vast majority of New Yorkers don’t think highly of New York-based (or not) public figures who use tragic events for personal gain. Those self serving types who don’t have the integrity and maturity to know that in a moment of crisis, a true leader doesn’t capitalize on fear. Demagogues play that sort of cheap and lazy game.
I hate tossing politics into this conversation, but at no time in recent history, has the need for stable leadership been more critical. Here is video footage from “The Wall Street Journal” of both Presidential candidates responding or reacting to news of the bomb explosion in Manhattan. Both candidates’ tones, their command of knowledge and the venue in which both first spoke of the news from here in New York is very telling of how they would handle a crisis.
Trump is emotional, speaking off the cuff. He calls the explosion a “bomb” before FBI or New York City Police Department had released that diagnosis to the public. He doesn’t seem to understand how reckless his pronouncement was.
What’s clear is that Trump was in the moment, as he often is, and he was only concerned with how he could spin this crisis in his favor. He used news of the bombing to spook an adoring campaign crowd and “sell” his get tough, “we’re going to crackdown” message. The Colorado Springs crowd just crows its approval.
P.S. Mr Trump, crackdown on what? Martial Law? We don’t even know what the motive of this bomber is yet? To think this man is one step away from the White House speaks poorly of our nation’s sense of hope.
Meanwhile, Clinton tells reporters it’s important to first know all the facts. She calls for widespread support of New York City’s first responders (cops, NYFD, EMT other NYC and fed officials on the ground) and prayers for the victims. And with the measured tone of a stateswoman, she says, they (her campaign) have been in touch with officials in NYC as the investigation unfolds, and says I’ll have more to say about it when we know the facts. She is meticulous, almost calming and careful with her language. She sounds like a leader.
The bombing in New York City is a grim reminder of why voters need to probe their conscience when they cast a ballot in November. We are in troubled times, uncertainty is our reality, and a steady hand at the top hopefully makes life for all of us a bit more secure. That said, our nation is divided and many people are hurting economically, socially and in other ways. But, the world is much too perilous to experiment with an unproven leader, at least for now.