By Jonathan D. Salant, NJ Advance Media
Senator Refuses to Sit in the Sidelines
A few days after the anniversary of 9/11, comedian Jon Stewart, nine lawmakers and dozens of first responders crowded into a Senate hearing room to demand that Congress permanently renew a program providing health benefits and compensation for those injured responding to the terrorist attacks.
U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) was among the speakers. “We have to send a very clear message that we not only honor those who sacrificed their lives, we will take care of you as a grateful nation should,” he said.
Menendez, New Jersey’s senior senator, has remained front and center despite his April 1 indictment on charges that he helped a wealthy friend and campaign donor in exchange for trips and contributions.
“Most political leaders under a cloud choose to stay out of sight as much as possible,” said Rogan Kersh, a political science professor and provost at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. “Senator Menendez has embraced the ‘business as usual’ approach with a relish seldom seen in politics past or present.”