Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Did They Mention That Kerik Was Present On 9/11?

This is a long excerpt from an even-longer editorial that is well-worth investing a few minutes in.

From start to stunning finish, George Bush wrapped his re-election campaign in 9/11 cloth, so there would be no mistaking which emotional strings or ballot levers to pull. Indeed, a video clip floating around the Internet splices together just the "9/11," "Sept. 11" and "terror" references from GOP convention speeches. It drones on for several terror-logged minutes. Included in the montage is Bernard Kerik, walking 9/11 icon and now presidential embarrassment.

President Bush picked Kerik, the able former New York City police commissioner, to be the next secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, not because of Kerik's extensive Washington experience (Kerik's is nil) or his button-down style (not that long ago, Kerik wore a ponytail as long as your sister's) or his acclaim fighting terrorists (battling New York's street thugs is a whole other brand of crime).

No, Kerik, who retired months after the attacks, was picked and picked first because he was on the job on Sept. 11, 2001, at the elbow of Mayor/sponsor Rudy Giuliani throughout, and later the freshman president's, and thus became a human icon of the tragedy — one who then doubled his currency by getting behind the president's re-election. He promoted that cause with a zealousness not seen since New York's war on squeegee men.

Perhaps one horse-length ahead of the sheriff, Kerik on Saturday removed his name from consideration for Homeland Security chief, stating that he discovered just a few days ago that he and his family did not pay all required taxes for their apparently forgettable nanny-housekeeper, who mostly likely was in the country illegally. Kerik said he was to blame for not being more forthcoming about the lapse, the kind of which has caused other presidential picks either to flame out in public or remove their names from short and long lists.

Kerik now holds the distinction of being the first New York pol to turn his considerable 9/11 fame into parody. Giuliani, who personally sold business-partner Kerik to eager-buyer Bush, might be next. To say that Giuliani and the White House didn't read — or appreciate — the whole of Kerik's public and private resume would to be an understatement. Reporters doing their own vetting ferreted more damaging material on Kerik — from allegations of broken marital ties to mob ties to funny-money business deals— faster than one can say "nomination withdrawn."