We don’t have any particular comment on Tom Ridge’s resignation from the Homeland Security Department. “Homeland security” is frequently something of a joke, and it would be hard to think of a more thankless position. But Ridge leaves office without a single successful terrorist attack taking place on his watch. If I were in Ridge’s position, having done the bureaucratic work necessary to set up and run the homeland security organization, and having an unblemished record over nearly three years, I’d quit too.
Ridge’s successor, Bernard Kerik, sounds like he could be our kind of guy. Here is how the New York Times describes Kerik:
A high school dropout, he was a military policeman in South Korea and a private security guard in Saudi Arabia before becoming an undercover narcotics officer in New York, sporting a ponytail and diamond earrings when he worked the streets. He went on the run the New York City Corrections Department, where he established a reputation as an energetic reformer, before taking over as police commissioner in 2000.
After helping oversee the city’s response to the 9/11 attacks in 2001, he left office a few months later, at the end of Rudolph Giuliani’s second and final term as mayor. He went to Baghdad at the White House’s behest last year to help re-establish an Iraqi security force, holding the title of interim interior minister during his stint. Now a partner in Mr. Giuliani’s consulting firm, he campaigned this year for Mr. Bush’s re-election.
In an autobiography published in 2001, he recounted being abandoned by his mother as a young boy, and learning much later that she had been a prostitute who died in an apparent homicide. In recent months he has toyed with the idea of running for governor of his native New Jersey, an idea he had to abandon because he did not meet the seven-year residency requirement, and more recently has been promoted by some Republicans as a candidate for the United States Senate from New Jersey.
It seems to me that there are only two relevant questions to be asked about a new homeland security director: 1) Is he a politically correct goofball? Nothing in Kerik’s background suggests that. 2) Is he willing to get serious about cracking down on immigration violations? I’ve seen nothing about Kerik’s views on immigration, one way or the other. Here’s hoping.