Today’s news:

The Mad Hatter and the Tea Party

Bob Turner, the businessman running against state Assemblyman David Weprin in the race to replace former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner in the 9th District, says he is not a member of the Tea Party — although he welcomes its support.

Do not be fooled by the quick step by the conservative Republican from the Rockaways. In New York, the Tea Party is not an official political party. It is a movement and there is every reason to believe Turner is part of that movement.

Last week, Turner aired a commercial that exploits the memory of the 9/11 tragedy. Turner’s ad accuses his opponent and President Barack Obama of supporting plans to build an Islamic center near the ruins of the World Trade Center. The special election will take place Sept. 13, two days after the 10th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center.

The commercial is founded on a lie. Obama and Weprin have made it clear they think building the Islamic center and mosque near the World Trade Center is a bad idea. They understand that the plan is controversial and they would like to see Park51 moved. But the president and Weprin realize the center’s backers have a constitutional right to build at this location. And, unlike Turner, they understand the American tradition of religious tolerance.

Turner’s commercial disrespects the 9/11 heroes and panders to the pain many still feel.

Apparently running short on substance, the businessman has criticized Weprin for voting to give himself a 25 percent salary increase when he was on the City Council in 2006. The raise upped Weprin’s salary from $90,000 to $112,000.

At $112,000, Council members will still be making less than every city commissioner and most deputy commissioners. If this helps attract the most qualified candidates for Council, we are not troubled by the vote.

Weprin launched his own attack, blaming the Tea Party and Turner for the country’s credit downgrade from AAA to AA+.

This may be a bit of a stretch, but it is no stretch to say Turner is far to the right of the average Queens and Brooklyn voter and that his 9/11 commercial is evidence of poor judgment.

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