The O”Reilly Factor on Tuesday, June 21, reported a scuffle in the green room between International Freedom Center President Rick Tofel and World Trade Center Memorial Foundation board member Debra Burlingame.
Whether or not the facts bear out the story, this is probably a fatal blow to the Freedom Center,
We felt that the turning point in the 2000 Senate Election was when Rick Lazio condescended to Hillary Clinton (hint to anybody running for office or pursuing a public agneda — never be perceived as insulting or condescending women). It may work in Saudi Arabia but it don’t work here in the Land of the Free.
Specifically, Tofel is reported to have come into the green room and patted Debra Burlingame telling her “Nice try.”
This echoes the comments and style of the Dennis Whitehead, chairman of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, who made condescending comments about Burlingame who ignited the current furor in a June 7 Wall Street Op-Ed piece expressing concern about the Freedom Center’s mission when Whitehead said “she’s been given her chance.”
We have our own opinions about whether 911 families have too much say in Ground Zero (a blog entry waiting to be published), but this is a huge and needless strategic mistake (hint: we have not joined the universal family condemnation of the Freedom Center because we are not a family of those who lost loved ones — even though we worked at the WTC and lost friends and at one point and helped build one of the damaged World Financial Center buildings).