December 15, 2004


On Kerik Nomination, White House Missed Red Flags (Mike Allen and Peter Baker, December 15, 2004, Washington Post)

President Bush hoped to limit the political damage from the nomination of Bernard B. Kerik by cutting him loose as soon as he confessed he had not paid taxes for a Mexican nanny who apparently had been in the country illegally. Instead, questions about Bush's judgment have escalated because of a cascade of damaging details about Kerik's business and personal lives that White House vetters either missed or ignored.

A few days of digging by news organizations have revealed that Bush had planned to entrust one of the most sensitive jobs in his Cabinet, secretary of homeland security, to a man who had failed to report lavish gifts he received as a New York City official, had declared personal bankruptcy and was the subject of an arrest warrant in a civil case involving unpaid condominium fees.

Since Kerik withdrew, reports have emerged that he helped a company suspected of doing business with organized crime, and he has been accused of extramarital affairs that his representatives do not deny.

Republicans on Capitol Hill and in the lobbying community, accustomed to a White House that resists any whiff of sleaziness, were left wondering whether it was more astounding that Kerik allowed himself to be considered or that Bush disregarded a forest of red flags and nominated him anyway.

An exhausted staffer who has been closely involved in the matter from the beginning called it "a case of hubris on both sides."

Marshall Wittman, a former Republican who is now a senior fellow at the Democratic Leadership Council, called this the first instance of the overreaching that officials in both parties had expected after Bush won reelection and claimed a broad mandate.

Hubris? Overreach? It was an obvious mistake but a one day story even inside the Beltway and in the long run is unlikely to improve the standing of Democrats with the kind of white males who dominate the first responder community. An instance of genuine overreach might be trying to turn the Intelligence Reform bill into a Trojan Horse for sneaking the Son of the Patriot Act through, except that worked, so it's just reach.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 15, 2004 12:07 PM

How can any staffer be 'exhausted' from this? This has been a two-week evolution, at best. There's more than hubris going around, I'll wager.

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 15, 2004 12:23 PM


Dead story by January.

And based on absolutely nothing whatsoever, my gut tells me Bernard Kerik would have been great in this job, would have brought a touch of J. Edgar Hoover to it, and yes that is a compliment, as it is esactly what DHS needs.

Posted by: Andrew X at December 15, 2004 12:23 PM

My guess is that he would have remained in the job for at most two rocky years and then resigned. His baggage is much heavier than Ashcrost's.

Posted by: Dave W. at December 15, 2004 1:28 PM

Of course, when JFK and WJC philandered, it was cute and amusing and signs of manly vigor in the eyes of the nations press.

Now, it's somehow different.

All the same, Kerik apparently is a pig.

Posted by: M. Murcek at December 15, 2004 2:04 PM

M. -

Good comment.

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 15, 2004 2:47 PM


There did seem to be quite a bit of scandal surrounding him.

Posted by: Ali Choudhury at December 15, 2004 3:48 PM

Don't we need the dirtiest bastard for the job? Excuse my French once again OJ.

Posted by: AllenS at December 15, 2004 4:53 PM

Why is Bush being blamed because Kerik lied to the people who asked him if he any issues?

The NYT article led with this:

"Despite hours of confrontational interviews by the White House counsel, Alberto R. Gonzales, the Bush administration failed to get a full picture of the legal and ethical problems of Bernard B. Kerik, its nominee for homeland security secretary, a government official said on Tuesday."

I am sorry. If he was asked the questions and he lied, its hardly Bushes fault. The lies came out, and would have come out, before a confirmation vote. Its embarasing, but more for Kerik, than for Bush. The MSM agenda is still to bash Bush.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at December 16, 2004 11:30 AM
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