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The Kerik indictment, Giuliani, and the GOP; Update: Kerik pleads not guilty

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By Michelle Malkin  •  November 8, 2007 08:43 PM

Update 2:00pm EasternThe NYPost compiles Kerik’s “rap sheet:”

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Update 1:30pm Eastern Kerik pleads not guilty.

Here’s the PDF of the indictment.

Update 12:04pm Eastern. Kerik facing a cumulative 142 years in jail.

Rudy Giuliani in the wake of the indictment news: “I am not running as the perfect candidate.”

“Sad day,” prosecutors say.

Update 11:30am Eastern. McCain piles on: “McCain Says Kerik Reflects on Giuliani.” The problem is that this criticism of Giuliani’s bad judgement on vital homeland security and war on terror matters comes from Mr. “F*** You!” Shamnesty himself. Pot and kettle.

Update 9:14am Eastern. Kerik surrenders to authorities: “The U.S. attorney’s office said it would hold an 11:30 a.m. EST news conference with FBI and Internal Revenue Service officials in White Plains “to announce an indictment of a former public official.”

NYDN: Rudy Giuliani won’t say if he’d pardon Kerik as President.

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We are all fallen, imperfect beings. The news of the federal indictment of Bernie Kerik is a sad moment, a cautionary tale, and an object lesson.

Sad, because Kerik rose from the child of a prostitute to “America’s cop”–and this nation loves such tales of success.

Cautionary, because it speaks to the fallibility of anointed heroes and the temptations of power.

An object lesson, because it highlights the flaws and vulnerabilities of GOP front-runner Rudy Giuliani’s on the issues of corruption and immigration enforcement.

Here’s what I wrote back in December 2004 when Kerik was forced to withdraw from consideration as DHS chief because of his illegal alien nanny problem and his lack of candor about the debacle:

I find it annoying that Bernard Kerik is getting praised in some quarters for “coming clean” and “accepting responsibility” for his “mistake.” From all accounts, including Kerik’s own, President Bush’s aides asked him upfront about the nanny question several times during the vetting process and he did not come clean.

Kerik didn’t just make some minor clerical error. He misled the White House. So, stop making him a martyr.

It’s also interesting that some political observers on both the left and right are pooh-poohing the illegal alien nanny issue. I heard Geraldo Rivera ask Rudy Giuliani during a press conference yesterday why Kerik was in trouble over a “de minimis” issue. A number of other commentators on the Sunday shows echoed that sentiment. And John Podhoretz says Rudy Giuliani, who pushed the Kerik nomination, won’t suffer any blowback.

I disagree. I think the fiasco substantially damages Rudy Giuliani’s reputation as a homeland security leader (and 2008 presidential nominee)–not only because of his sloppy vetting of Kerik, but also because Giuliani’s own laxity on immigration (more here on his open-borders record ) will be difficult to ignore as a result of the Kerik taint.

A few other thoughts on Bernard Kerik’s withdrawal :

First, it puts an end to feminist complaints that only women nominees are penalized for having “nanny problems.”

Second, it keeps a white-hot spotlight on many of the issues raised by maverick House Republicans during the “intel reform”/border security debate, including the push for secure documentation, improved employer verification of Social Security numbers, and strengthening of penalties for immigration-related fraud.

Third, it puts a much-needed focus on the need to enforce federal employer sanctions. Why is it that the only employers who ever seem to suffer consequences for hiring illegal immigrants are Cabinet nominees?! In 2002, the federal government fined only 13 employers nationwide for hiring illegal immigrants. Enforcement of employer sanctions has been a nationwide joke for the last two decades.

And fourth, unfortunately, it virtually kills the prospects of getting someone with real homeland security enforcement experience to head DHS.

Since that post nearly three years ago, there has been little change on the homeland security and immigration enforcement front. Giuliani still refuses to acknowledge his aggressive, proactive protection of New York’s sanctuary policies.

Hillary Clinton’s botched illegal alien license answer gave the GOP some breathing room. But when the Dem-on-Dem “pile-on” dies down, we are still left with a leading GOP presidential candidate who positions himself as War on Terror strong horse–but who exercised extraordinarily weak judgement in recommending his corrupted ally for the nation’s top homeland security post, continued to rationalize it, and fails to see his own culpability in perpetuating open-borders chaos in NYC.

Three years ago, the conventional wisdom from many parts of the NYC-DC punditocracy was that Giuliani’s Kerik problem wouldn’t matter in the ’08 presidential election.

It does.

The grass-roots conservative base is sick and tired of cronyism and open-borders arrogance–two traits that dominate the Bush White House, two traits on naked display in the intertwined fates of Rudy Giuliani and Bernie Kerik, two traits that dangerously undermine public confidence and public safety.

If Republicans are going to decide that Giuliani is the best standard-bearer for the party, they better do so with eyes wide open and absolute candor. He is–at best–only marginally better than Hillary Clinton on immigration and border security. He was a bad judge of character at a key moment in the Department of Homeland Security’s history. And despite his lip service and cable TV-friendly talking points, he remains obstinately committed to non-enforcement of immigration laws when push comes to shove.

Caveat emptor.

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