Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Monday, December 13, 2004

"Man Overboard!" They Whispered

That figure we see bobbing in the water, hands tied behind his back with the Cardian knot in the rope, is Bernard Kerik struggling to stay afloat as the destroyer USS White House sails away from him at flank speed.

Both Kerik and the hired help working in the West Wing and Old EOB share the blame for their mutual embarrassment when Kerik withdrew his nomination to be Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

Kerik should not have been nominated, and had he not been Commissioner of the NYPD under Mayor Rudy Giuliani on September 11, 2001, he would not have been. He lacked the skills and experience needed to successfully herd the cats included in the Department of Homeland Security. Kerik’s personal story is impressive. His rise inside the NYPD is impressive. His political leadership of the NYPD was adequate. But there is nothing in his history suggesting he would be able to survive inside the Capitol Hill trash compactor.

Being nominated by the President for a Cabinet-level position is pretty head-enlarging. So much so that it apparently causes nominees to forget that the immigration and tax laws apply to them, too. But there is plenty of blame to go around. The Bush administration body-gatherers wanted Kerik less for his abilities than for his name and face recognition. He had star quality. It didn’t hurt that he does a pretty good imitation of the Bush swagger, too. In short, Kerik was going to be exploited, willingly, but exploited nonetheless as testosterone eye candy to bolster not only Bush’s political legacy but Giuliani’s political future.

Those in the best position to save Bernard Kerik’s political life were the ones whispering, “Man overboard!” as he made his last big splash.


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