A strange echo comes from the gassy Knoll popping off:
After setting off a swirl of protest over her appearance at a slain Marine's funeral last week, Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll yesterday apologized profusely for unintentionally causing the Marine's family any additional pain or distress.
Key words: "last week." Anytime an apology takes a week, I usually infer that it is something less than sincere.
Her appearance, and an article about it in Saturday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, generated an outpouring of letters, e-mail messages and Web log entries from around the country. Writers were angry about Knoll showing up at the funeral in Carnegie of Staff Sgt. Joseph Goodrich, who was killed in action in Iraq July 10. She handed out a business card, appeared to a relative of the soldier to be campaigning and made a puzzling remark that was interpreted as criticism of the U.S. military action in Iraq.
Knoll said, "I want you to know our government is against this war." What exactly is puzzling about that statement at the funeral of a Marine? I understand it completely, and I think everyone else does as well, hence the "outpouring of letters, e-mail messages and Web log entries from around the country."
Knoll yesterday wrote to Amy Goodrich, widow of Staff Sgt. Joseph Goodrich, saying she was "incredibly upset" after learning through press reports that the Goodrich family was offended by her actions.
The looks of shock and anger on the faces of the bereaved apparently had no effect. Or, at least, no effect that mattered.
"I wanted to assure you once again that my intention was not to add to what must be a tremendously heartbreaking, difficult period," Knoll wrote.
So, what exactly was the gassy Knoll's intention?
"I have attended dozens of funerals to offer my sympathy and condolences to the families of soldiers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice."
But, apparently, this one required that little something extra.
Gov. Ed Rendell, during appearances in Pittsburgh yesterday and throughout the weekend, came to Knoll's aid, saying he has confidence in her ability to perform her job.
Well, what with Big Labor starting to abandon the Democratic Party, the former chairman of the DNC realizes he can't afford to lose any more votes.
Knoll said she offered a business card to a Goodrich family member "as a sign of my willingness to help the family through this difficult time in any way I can. To do anything that was deemed insensitive was completely counter to my intent."
Her anti-war comments and media interviews afterwards were also no doubt done only for the benefit of the Goodrich family.
Knoll said that Sgt. Goodrich's military service "was beyond the call of duty. If my regard for his family's grief was seen another way, it is thoroughly regrettable. The fact that you have been offended deserves and receives my most profound apology."
So, the gassy Knoll apologizes for how others may have seen her actions, rather than for the actions themselves. So I gather she wouldn't have felt that she did anything wrong if the family hadn't taken offense.
The letter was released by Knoll's office in Harrisburg. She was said to be away from the Capitol and not available for comment.
Apologies issued by letter from your office while you are unavailable just ooze sincerity.
Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, Rendell insisted Knoll was not campaigning when she gave out a business card at the funeral. Knoll wanted to give the soldier's family a way to contact her if they needed help, he said.
I'm from the government and I'm here to help. Yes, I've heard that somewhere before. I do really like the, "Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh," segue though.
Rendell, a Democrat who is expected to run for re-election next year as is Knoll, said, "Nobody can tell me Catherine Baker Knoll is not a caring and decent person. I know she apologizes for any misunderstanding that her actions caused."
Well, slap my ass and call me Nobody. Even Easy Ed acknowledges that all the gassy Knoll is sorry for is how people took her words and actions.
Rhonda Goodrich, sister-in-law of the slain Marine and the one who raised the issue of Knoll's conduct in a letter to the Post-Gazette, said yesterday she was still puzzled by Knoll's handing out her business card to a Goodrich family member and then doing television interviews outside the funeral home.
Because nothing says "Message: I care" like doing television interviews.
"If she wanted to offer the family help, why didn't she go talk to Joey's wife Amy or his parents?" Rhonda Goodrich said. "She handed a card and introduced herself just like a politician handing out fliers."
Perhaps because of the bad publicity that might result if they actually called for help and the gassy Knoll was out of her office and unavailable for comment.
Rhonda Goodrich said Knoll's action showed "a big lack of judgment" and said she should apologize to the Marines also.
Somehow, I think the Marines couldn't care less for a form letter apology from the gassy Knoll's office.
According to Rhonda Goodrich, Knoll told the family that "our government" is against the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The state of Pennsylvania has a foreign policy? Hey, why not? Berkely does.
Not so, Knoll insisted. "I will continue to support our troops in my role as lieutenant governor and support our president as an American," she wrote.
Ah yes, the old I support the troops but not their mission or commander canard. Lovely.
"That I somehow conveyed an impression that was interpreted as other than that will forever be saddening and upsetting to me."
I bloody well hope so, but we're still caught up in this whole interpretation thing, aren't we? Alas, it still seems as though the gassy Knoll thinks she did nothing wrong.
Rendell emphasized that his administration has no official position on the fighting, beyond showing support for U.S. troops.
You go Easy Ed! Although, I would think an official position of U.S. victory might be a good one, if you are going to have a foreign policy and all that.
"We join with every Pennsylvanian in supporting our young men and women who are fighting this global war on terrorism," he said.
So Easy Ed supports the troops fighting, but he is a little more obtuse when it comes to winning. Or am I being a little too harsh?
Rhonda Goodrich said she had no political motive in raising concerns about Democrat Knoll's appearance and statements at the funeral. Goodrich said she's a registered Republican but added, "If [Republican U.S. Sen.] Rick Santorum or President Bush had showed up, I would be all over them, too."
So Bush gets hit for not attending the funerals by Democrats and he would get hit for attending them by Republicans. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
Goodrich, who lives in Indiana, Pa., was part of a protest in October about an appearance by liberal, anti-Bush filmmaker Michael Moore at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She said the program should have included a conservative spokesman to offset Moore, who had just released a film harshly critical of Bush. "I wanted balance in the IUP program," Goodrich said, but strongly denied she had raised complaints about Knoll for political reasons.
That last line is repeated, just in case you didn't get it in the lead of the previous paragraph. I guess those rascally Republicans will even exploit their relatives funerals to score political points. The gall. Oh, and I understand that Mitt Romney's being a Mormon isn't an issue either.