Polman: Donald Trump profited from 9/11
Unlike their Republican counterparts, Democrats tend not to wallow in the sewer with infantile chants like "Lock Her Up." Instead, they simply whacked Donald Trump with substance throughout their four-day convention in Philadelphia.
Take for instance New York congressman Joe Crowley, who assailed Trump for grabbing federal money that was intended to help small businesses crippled by 9/11. Crowley's indictment has the added advantage of being true.
"Where was Donald Trump in the days and months and the years after 9/11? He didn't stand at the pile, he didn't lobby Congress for help, he didn't fight for the first responders," Crowley noted. "Nope, he cashed in, collecting $150,000 in government funds intended to help small businesses recover — even though days after the attack Trump said his properties were not affected."
One goal of the Democratic National Convention was to draw stark character contrasts between Hillary Clinton and Trump. Case in point, their divergent reactions after the planes leveled the towers.
Clinton, as a newbie senator, worked successfully on health legislation to address the needs of first responders who'd spent weeks breathing toxic PCBs. In '04, the responders staged a ceremony to thank her. Trump, on the other hand, did precisely what Crowley described. He made money off the attack.
This has been well-documented by the New York Daily News, and seconded by two conservative media outlets, Red State and The Weekly Standard. A state grant program was set up to help small businesses recover and rebuild. But because the rules were so loose, Trump and some big corporations jumped in. The state program defined "small business" as 500 employes or less; Trump, in his application, said that his building at 40 Wall Street had 28 employes. Voila, he got $150,000 — even though, as he told German TV shortly after the 9/11, his property "wasn't, fortunately, affected by what happened to the World Trade Center."
Did he break any laws? Nope. Instead, as the conservative Weekly Standard wrote last winter, "through a loophole in the rules, Trump was able to squeeze $150,000 of money from taxpayers."
Is this a character issue? Absolutely. As the Red State site wrote last winter — and it's great to see these conservative outlets in sync with a Democratic congressman — we're talking here about a despicable human being:
"This simply goes to Trump's sense of entitlement. If he wants your house for a limousine parking lot, well, he's entitled ... Support abortion and then expect to be believed when he changes his tune? Entitled. Money for small businesses affected by 9/11? Entitled. He took this grant money, and I'm sure he'd tell you that $150K is chump change ... He didn't need it. But he wanted it."
And sure enough, Trump does think it's chump change. Two months ago, when The New York Times asked him about it, he described it as "this small amount of money." That's probably news to the median American household, which, according to the Census Bureau, posts an annual tally of $54,000.
Still, the odds are high that compared to the many other faults and failures of the Republican presidential nominee, this episode of "Donald Trump, 9/11 Leech" will look like chump change.
Dick Polman is the national political columnist at NewsWorks/WHYY in Philadelphia (newsworks.org/polman) and a "Writer in Residence" at the University of Pennsylvania.