I’m sure that many of you have at least a passing knowledge of the Bernie Kerik scandal. Long story short, Bush nominated the former New York police commissioner to be the new head of the Department of Homeland Security. A few days later, Kerik withdrew from the process, claiming that he might have hired an illegal immigrant as a nanny in the past. Since a handful of political nominees have been brought down due to similar illegal employer practices, this sounded like a reasonable excuse. For about 30 seconds.
It turns out that Kerik is so crooked he makes a lightning bolt look like a straightedge. The revelations started slow. In 2003, Kerik had been sent to Baghdad to train the new Iraqi police force, a job scheduled to last 6 to 18 months. But Kerik was back in 3, with no explanation. Seemed… odd.
Shortly after this, the dam broke, and we’ve been deluged with stories of Kerik’s rank underbelly ever since. He cheated on his wife with two mistresses. When one mistress broke it off, Kerik stalked her. He seemed to have waaaaay more money than he should, given his salary. He used an apartment donated to emergency workers at Ground Zero as his personal love nest. He’s wanted by the police in New Jersey for failing to pay rent on a place he owned there. He also seems to be involved in granting some shady contracts in NYC and in Iraq.
There’s also Kerik’s extensive mob connections. New connections to, and favors done for, organized crime are revealed every day. I half expect to find out next week that Kerik killed Jimmy Hoffa.
And, of course, it’s beginning to look like Kerik lied about having an illegal immigrant nanny in the first place.
Keep in mind much of this shady stuff went down while Kerik was in charge of the largest police force in the United States. To any of you out there who are staunchly pro-law enforcement, I hope this news will make you stop and think a minute.
The scariest thing to me here is that while Kerik was in charge of the NYPD, he was leaking information to his mob cronies for money. The idea that this guy was almost in charge of homeland security chills me. If he’d sell out the people of New York for a buck, why wouldn’t he sell out the people of the United States if the price was right? Mobster money and terrorist money all look the same when you’re a greedy fuck.
The second-most appalling thing here is that Kerik was even nominated. It sounds like there were three reasons Kerik was the favorite: 1) he was friends with Rudy Giuliani. 2) as a highly visible figure right after the WTC attacks, he would be a “symbol of 9/11″ in the White House, and 3) Bush liked him. Bush bought into Kerik’s public persona of self-made man who is also a tough guy, and felt a kinship with him, because Bush has bought into his own, similar, completely false, public persona.
It’s one of the tragedies of recent times: the president seems to truly feel that all politics, both national and international, is simply a battle of wills between individual leaders. Having people to fight your battles, having weapons for them to fight with, hell, even knowing where your enemy actually is– these things are irrelevant to winning a war. You win a war with your steely Clint Eastwood glare and your tough guy rhetoric some speechwriter cooked up for you. And because of that, you don’t need intelligence, skills, or diplomacy, and you don’t need to compromise ever. Because if you bravely refuse all other options, your opponents will back down. Cuz you’re tough.
Stay tuned for the next round of Kerik revelations, when we’ll surely learn that sent out all those anthrax letters, and that he totally slept with your mom.
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