Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Kerik: A Millstone Around Giuliani

Bernard Kerik, onetime darling and partner of Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani, is about to be indicted by a federal prosecutor for a list of offences that include tax fraud, corruption, and conspiracy, my how the mighty have fallen. Mr. Kerik was Mr. Giuliani’s hand-picked Corrections Commissioner, Police Commissioner, and would have made it to the upper echelons of the government were it not for someone finaling doing a proper vetting on him. Even after the debacle and embarrassment of submitting him for Homeland Security Director, he continued to remain a partner and earn a substantial salary at Mr. Giuliani’s consulting firm.

Federal prosecutors are scheduled to seek a grand jury indictment on Thursday of Bernard B. Kerik, the former New York police commissioner, on a list of charges that include tax fraud, corruption and conspiracy, according to people who have been briefed on the case.

The grand jury, sitting in Westchester, has been hearing evidence about Mr. Kerik for more than a year as part of a broad federal investigation into a variety of allegations, including his acceptance of $165,000 in renovations from a contractor who was seeking a city license.

Now while I am in no way suggesting that Mr. Kerik’s legal troubles cast any aspersions towards Mr. Giuliani’s honesty or integrity, I already had my doubts about that, it does cast aspersions on something that is of vital importance to a country that he wants to be president of. Despite his campaigns rigorous denials to the contrary, the Bernard Kerik case does demonstrate a lack of judgment by their candidate. They can attempt to color over this issue, but Mr. Giuliani’s judgment is now in question. These two men have been inextricably linked since 1990 and so for Rudy to now claim ignorance is beyond the realm of common sense. What does that say about this judgment if he can be so closely linked to this man for all those years and he did not know of his involvement in dubious business deals?

By his own admission Mr. Giuliani has stated that one of his greatest strengths is his ability to surround himself with the right people, able and qualified. My question is, if one of your greatest strengths is suspect, should that not also cast doubts on your other so called strengths? As hard as he tries to run from the embarrassment that his friend Bernie has become, Mr. Giuliani will have to face up to his monumental lack of judgment. He was even pushing to have Mr. Kerik nominated for Homeland Security Director, this is a cabinet level appointment and is an indicator of the type of people Mr. Giuliani would nominate to his own cabinet, not to mention the appointments that don’t even require confirmation. Can this country afford another administration filled with party loyalist and incompetent hacks in positions of leadership? How many Alberto Gonzales and Michael D. Browns are enough?

Mr. Giuliani waved off the dissenters. “I believe that the skill I have developed better than any other was surrounding myself with great people,” Mr. Giuliani wrote in his 2002 book, “Leadership.”[2]

If Mr. Giuliani wants to run on his record and his ability to surround himself with “great people”, then the American people have a right to examine his claims. In the case of this claim it does not hold up to inspection. One of the things that I find so troubling is that when Mr. Giuliani inserted Mr. Kerik’s name for Homeland Security, he and his staff were at that time well aware of Mr. Kerik’s seedy connections to the mob and a host of other dubious facts. Having this information did not deter Mr. Giuliani from submitting his name for consideration. So did he think that the White House would not vett him or did he think that with this White House it wouldn’t matter what his past entailed. Either way it brings up questions that he has not fully answered.

In Mr. Kerik’s case, by the time Mr. Giuliani recommended him for the federal job, his administration knew that Mr. Kerik had acted on behalf of Interstate Industrial. It also knew that he had drawn criticism for a range of other incidents, from sending detectives to search for his lover’s cellphone to using officers to research his autobiography.[3]

Mr. Kerik was not some misguided bureaucrat seduced by the trappings of power, on the contrary Mr. Kerik has a long history of questionable decisions and unsavory relationships. Rumors have dogged him since his days as a NYC detective and continued to follow him through his meteoric rise to the gates of power. I find it incredulous that his one-time mentor was oblivious to these rumors and refused to verify their veracity. Are we now to believe that someone capable of making such a monumental mistake in character is capable of leading a nation during its most troubling times? I don’t think so, thanks to Mr. Bush incompetence is no longer in fashion for the office of Commander and Chief.

"But when you look at the combination of the mistakes and the correct decisions I've made, I think if I made the same balance of those decisions as president of the United States, the country would be in great shape," he continued.[4]

Prior to Bush, Mr. Giuliani might have been able to get away with this logic, but hence Bush it seems anemic and flimsy. How we allow politicians with feeble records to run on those records unchecked is beyond me. We allow war heroes to be lambasted publically, but ignore the flawed records of suspect politicians. I don’t know what we have become, but woe to those who call evil good and good evil.


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