Monday, December 13, 2004


Scandals in Kerik's Home(land)

So much happened during the weekend.

Bernard Kerik is no longer the man for the Department of Homeland Security. Kerik has withdrawn his nomination as the new Secretary of DHS. The official reason is said to be tax problems concerning the fact that he hired a nanny who turned out to be (surprise!) an illegal immigrant.
The Kerik scandal became official after Newsweek released their story on Friday, that a New Jersey judge had issued a warrant for Bernard Kerik concerning a civil dispute over unpaid bills for a condo (apparently the documents were being faxed to the White House as early as Wednesday...). Washington Post has an article on Kerik and for further reading there is a Talking points memo article . Talking points makes a number of connections that are hard to evaluate at this point. Too many allegations are up in the air right now - as for example the rumors about who Kerik has run Riker's Island as a contemporary Tammany Hall (this being the argument of Joshua Marshall at the Talking points memo blog). It's an interesting allegory, with the slight imperfection of one tiny detail - that Tammany Hall was the corrupt organisation of the Democratic party in New York city in the late 1800's.

No matter what - Kerik is in for a Linda Chavez treatement. The White House is obviously dropping him, and the question right now is not only who the Bush administration should look for next, but also how the failed Kerik nomination will affect Rudy Giuliani's position in the GOP.
As in many other forms of handling media scandals, the person in the eye of the storm has few chances to survive unless he is endorsed (and continually supported) by his political peers or a leading figure within the party.

Then, there is also the obvious evolution of side-issues and stories that are not related to one another,
a) The Nanny story.
b) The warrant in NJ
c) Riker's Island
d) The Baghdad connection

As foundations for a political scandal, they are very different, indeed. The only thing that connects them is that Kerik can be placed in them all. Some of these stories may only have the purpose of reinforcing the view of Kerik as a party hack and a crook.

Over time (even though this story has evolved rather rapidly) Kerik's position has deteriorated. It becomes impossible to try stonewalling by not responding to the allegations. Doing so would only hurt him more.
For the Bush administration, though not necessarily for the GOP, this story may soon be over since Kerik never went over to Capitol Hill.

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