Here is one prediction in the wake of the disastrous nomination of New Yorker Bernard Kerik to be secretary of homeland security. President Bush will pick trusted adviser Joe Allbaugh...
Here is one prediction in the wake of the disastrous nomination of New Yorker Bernard Kerik to be secretary of homeland security. President Bush will pick trusted adviser Joe Allbaugh to fill the job.
Falling back on the pattern of other nominations for his second-term Cabinet, the president will go with another team player from Texas. Allbaugh managed Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign, served as the former governor’s chief of staff in Austin and ran his 1994 gubernatorial race.
Allbaugh formerly ran the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He handled federal disaster response, so the transition to homeland security something of an administrative catastrophe is a natural segue.
For a president burned by sloppy or non-existent staff work on the vetting of Kerik’s résumé, Allbaugh is a logical, loyal and trusted choice. Whether he is the best candidate for the job is another question.
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Turns out Kerik has more suspect ties to organized crime, simultaneous extra-marital affairs, ex-wives and curious financial gains than the plot of an HBO special. Did he fail to pay employment taxes for a nanny who was an illegal immigrant? How banal.
The real scandal is how anyone will get a handle on a Cabinet post that oversees the merger of 22 agencies with 180,000 employees. This may indeed be an impossible job. No American cannot want the president’s appointment to succeed in making it work.
Kerik came to the nomination highly recommended by his patron and business partner, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. He and his former police commissioner symbolized gritty resolve in the days following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Leading homeland security is not a job for a figurehead or an emotional symbol. The need for extraordinary management skills and knowledge of how Washington, D.C., and the federal government works are vital. Kerik would have been popular with cops across the country, but he might not have got them a dime extra to do a tough job.
Identifying Allbaugh as a candidate is part parlor game, but it also goes to the power of his ties to the chief executive. Pushing administrative changes to make America safer will take the confidence and support of the president. Allbaugh has both.