Bernie, you would have been fun to watch
Too bad Bernard Kerik won’t become the next Director of Homeland Security (DHS). Most Americans love Horatio Alger stories and Kerik’s hard-fought rise from the tortured and neglected illegitimate son of a drug-ridden prostitute to New York City Police Commissioner and to consideration for a top cabinet post is one of the all-time great Horatio Alger stories.
But this observer knew there would be trouble with Kerik’s nomination to head the DHS. Anyone that pugnacious makes enemies. That said, Kerik’s withdrawal from consideration is the right thing for him to do.
Three of Bill Clinton’s cabinet nominees had to withdraw because they had employed nannies for their children but failed to pay the appropriate payroll and social security taxes. Bush nominee, Linda Chavez, had to withdraw because she had employed an undocumented woman from Guatemala.
As Bernard Kerik filled out the highly detailed background investigation forms required of cabinet nominees, he realized he had a NannyGate problem. In addition, he had at one time employed an undocumented worker.
In fairness to Bill Clinton’s lost NannyGate nominees and due to the fact that the Director of Homeland Security is over the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Kerik was wise to withdraw his name and to apologize to President Bush and the White House staff for not thinking of these problems at the outset.
Not at all troubling to this observer is the fact that Kerik made about $6.2 million dollars from his investments in and involvement with Taser International, a company that makes a non-lethal method of dealing with violent criminals.
If Kerik were a Democrat nominated by a Democrat President, the anti-capitalist Left would be lionizing him for being a leader in the field of dealing with violent criminals without doing them serious bodily harm. But Kerik is a rock-ribbed Republican, so making money from non-lethal law enforcement weapons makes him an evil person.
But still, it would have been interesting to see how Bernard Kerik would have handled what is, arguably, the most difficult of cabinet posts. First of all, among almost 200,000 DHS employees, there must be some who have retired without informing the government. It would have been fun to see Kerik plant a number ten boot up their backsides. Moreover, Kerik, the Dean of the School of Hard Knocks and Common Sense, would probably have applied some badly needed common sense to airline security screening procedures.
Rags-to-riches Bernard Kerik enlisted in the Army where he excelled at the martial arts to the point he was soon teaching Green Berets how to earn their Black Belts in Karate. Seeking a financial nest egg, he worked for a time on the security detail of the Royal House of Saud in Saudi Arabia.
Returning home, Kerik took a series of jobs: police training officer, a SWAT team commander and then prison warden. Transferring to the NYPT, he went undercover. Over a two year period, he busted drug deals involving over 10 tons of cocaine and over $60 million in cash. Later, NYC Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, appointed him the Police Commissioner over “New York’s finest.”
But, as Benjamin Franklin said, “If you lie down with dogs, expect to get up with fleas.” Even the cleanest of police officers, as Kerik apparently was, will be forever open to charges of corruption from the many enemies he has made.
Liberals despise people like Bernie Kerik. He’s a stand-up guy who could probably whip most people he meets. For sure he can apply a “compliance” hold that will make your eyes water.
Most recently, he volunteered to go to Iraq to set up the Iraqi Police Academy. That done, he returned to the U.S. to help former NYC Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, campaign for President Bush.
But, in a sense, Kerik dodged yet another bullet. Anyone who thinks this country can go four more years without another major al Qaeda attack, please hold up your hand.
William Hamilton, a syndicated columnist, a featured commentator for USA Today and self-described “recovering lawyer and philosopher,” is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy – two thrillers about terrorism directed against the United States.
©2004. William Hamilton.