A Bunch of Donkeys

I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised. Tomorrow is the sixth anniversary of 9/11, and politicians everywhere are still using the event for personal gain.

Unfortunately, Massachusetts is no exception. If you haven’t heard, Jim Ogonowski — who’s running as the GOP candidate to replace Rep. Marty Meehan in the fifth district — wasn’t invited to speak at tomorrow’s state house ceremony. Ogonowski’s brother piloted one of the hijacked planes on 9/11. For the last four years, at the request of then Governor Mitt Romney, Ogonowski has spoken to the state house assembly in remembrance of those who lost their lives.


Not this year, though.


Here’s who will speak: A number of Democrats, including Meehan, whose wife chairs the Niki Tsongas campaign. Tsongas is running against Ogonowski for Meehan’s soon-to-be vacated seat. Here’s what Tsongas told the Herald about snubbing Ogonowski:


“I was surprised to learn that Jim Ogonowski was not invited to speak in (tomorrow’s) ceremony at the State House honoring those lost on Sept. 11, 2001,” said Tsongas. “The Ogonowski family suffered a tremendous loss, and his is an important voice on this day of remembrance.”


Of course, politically speaking, that’s pretty much what Tsongas had to say. Somewhere, though, someone made the choice to exclude Ogonowski, likely on the basis that it would help the Dems secure another seat in Washington.

Not that anyone is owning up to it. And why would they? Tsongas figures to win the general election easily, but you can’t be too careful about these things. What if Ogonowski spoke eloquently and passionately at the state house, as he does every year? And what if he managed to shave a few points off his impending defeat? The Dems can’t have that, now can they? No, they must guarantee their landslide at all costs.


Look, I’m all for political blood lust. I’m all for beating an opponent senseless and dragging what’s left of his battered corpse through your victory party when it’s over. But this move is beyond unnecessary, and whoever engineered it is both heartless and, in terms of political strategy, astonishingly incompetent. Because, again, the Dems figure to win this race handily. Allowing Ogonowski to speak wouldn’t have changed the inevitable outcome, but it would have engendered good will. It would have made the Dems look compassionate. It would have made them look like breathing, feeling human beings, and at absolutely no cost. Instead, they’ve chosen a far more loathsome and stupid approach.


No one over at Ogonowski’s campaign is talking right now. And they shouldn’t. The official “no comment” allows the Dems to keep on looking callous and partisan and slimy. But, beyond that, and more importantly, it means that Ogonowski isn’t willing to play politics with the anniversary of his brother’s death. He could scream and holler if he so chose, and that would surely mean more press coverage for his campaign than he’s enjoyed to this point. But he isn’t doing that.


Jim Ogonoswki is going to lose the race, make no mistake. And he won’t be speaking at the state house tomorrow, either. Still, he has done himself and his brother proud.