Thursday, December 16, 2004

Random thoughts on Bernard's problems
Bernard Kerik's meltdown does mean more to me than just an excuse to use the word schadenfreude -- though that in itself is reason for celebration. For once, it's nice to be able to have a guilt-free gloat over Bush's problems. Most of Bush's policy disasters and other miserable failures leave innocent people dead or devastated. It's hard to celebrate that. For once, all he did was publicly embarrass himself and his associates. That, we can enjoy. And we manage to dispose of one of his appointments without the Senate Democrats actually using any political capital. What's not to enjoy?

The nanny story about his fall is a good, but I suspect it's a decoy. Even though the angle of having it happen to the proposed head of Immigration and Naturalization and chief border cop is a delicious irony, I suspect it is a decoy because there are so many worse facts about him coming to light. Look at what's come to light in just the last few days. Kerik is a possibly mob-tied cop who misuses city resources and surrounds himself with corrupt officials; a possible bigamist and adulterer who abandoned his illegitimate child overseas; a possible coward who left his job in Iraq unfinished; and he forgot to pay Social Security taxes for his kids' nanny.

I suspect that the Bush spin team picked the nanny story hoping the press would lose interest and go interview some mall Santas for seasonal color stories. We have seen appointees fall because of illegal nannies; that makes it old news and easily forgettable. Or maybe they really didn't think the other things in his record were that serious.

Well, the shine is off St. Giuliani. Appointing Kerik was his idea. Humiliation has fallen on the administration thanks to him. It's a good thing Bush is a nice Christian man who doesn't hold grudges or act out of pride. With Giuliani feeling so bad, I'm sure Bush will want to forgive and comfort him. (snort) I've never liked Giuliani. I agree that he acted magnificently on 9/11, but I don't think that one day or week makes up for the rest of his career. Now that some have started to toss his name around as a possible presidential contender in '08, I'm glad to see a little reality dim his saintly glow.

This also takes a little of the shine off Alberto "the Geneva Conventions don't apply to us" Gonzales. Gonzales, the prospective head of the Justice Department and by extension the FBI, had the task of investigating Kerik. He failed spectacularly at this task, and his defense seems to be that he asked Kerik and Kerik didn't tell him. Most of these revelations were not secret. The New York area press has covered Kerik for years. Gonzales had the entire FBI to help in the vetting process and managed to miss things that a handful of reporters and bloggers were able to discover in a few hours of Googling. Note, I'm not blaming the FBI (though I'm sure the administration will); I blame Gonzales' leadership of the process. I don't expect that this will be enough to derail his nomination, but I do hope it will embolden the Senate Democrats to ask some difficult questions during the rubberstamping process.

In a way, it's a shame this story broke now, when so many people are preoccupied with the season. This should be one of the biggest stories of the year, if not for its actual relavance to our lives, then for its sheer entertainment value. Sex, arrogant politicians, the mob, sweaty foreign locales, terrorism; it has movie of the week written all over it. I gotta say, I'm enjoying this.

Update: Josh Marshall suggests the nanny might not even have existed. If true, this more or less proves my suspicion that the whole nanny business was smoke and mirrors to distract us from the much more serious skeletons in Kerik's closet.

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