Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Mrs. Hamner - I'm So Sorry

"This explosion, I believe, was preventable. And I don't call this an accident. I call this a disaster."

- Debbie Hamner, wife of Sago miner George Hamner.

Something happened in last night's AFL-CIO debate that struck me to my core. As a woman who lost my own Grandfather as a result of too many years and too little worker protections in the coal mines, in spirit, I am with the families of all miners in their sadness and in their quest for the truth. I found immediate empathy for and agreement with the concerns of Debbie Hamner. [See my 2006 posting]. Mrs. Hamner, who lost her husband George in the heart-wrenching Sago Mine disaster in January 2006, was the first to ask a question of the Democratic panel last night at the debate.

Joe Biden was the recipient of Mrs. Hamner's question. I was shocked and disappointed in him when he offered her a brief message of sympathy and then went on to blast out a retort about foreign policy to the other candidates standing with him if Mrs. Hamner no longer existed. He never answered her question.

I felt awful for her.

It was a stark symbol of how removed some of these people are from citizens like you and me.

Mrs. Hamner - I'm so sorry.

There have been 26 mining deaths this year, twice the pace of last year in a booming industry. The lone survivor's report told of the despairing men reciting a "sinner's prayer" and penning farewell notes. Do bureaucrats need to hear more before doing their jobs and protecting miners' lives?

- [From May, 2006 NY Times editorial]


From Daily Kos:
Biden felt bad about not being able to spend more time on the answer, and Keith Olbermann himself admitted some culpability in setting up the whole uncomfortable situation. Check out the video from Wednesday night's Countdown below: