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Setting the Standard in Washington

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There's a certain amount of discomfort that comes from discovering the top two picks, the cream of the crop, the best-of-the-best candidates for the leader of the Transportation Security Administration are a couple of guys you wouldn't want dating your sister.

Sorry, Erroll Southers and Robert Harding, but when you initially accepted the nomination to become the person ultimately responsible to try to prevent the bad guys from using transportation as a weapon against the U.S., you knew that it came with some pretty high qualifications in the moral, ethical and law-abiding departments. You know, the kinds of standards we're trying to uphold and protect here, right?

Southers, you may recall, used FBI assets to spy on his ex-wife's boyfriend, which in some circles might be considered a clever use of his time and resources, but are not the qualities generally sought in a Cabinet appointee.

As for Harding, I'm not sure whether it's the sneering dismissal of ethics, the implied disrespect for the veterans the former Army general commanded or the idiocy that made him think he could get away with it that bothers me most. Harding claimed a $100 million contract for his former company under a program designed to give work to businesses owned by veterans disabled during service to the country. His claim that his sleep apnea qualified him for the contract would be laughable if it wasn't so insulting to the thousands of men and women trying to put their lives back in order after a legitimate service-related injury.

Fortunately the newsroom at the Washington Post wasn't snoring when this came to light. What I don't get is how hard it could be to find someone for this job. America is full of ethical, moral, intelligent and committed people whose professional experience would give them the firm foundation of basic standards to carry out the role.

Maybe Washington has set standards so high for its leaders that it's actually diluted them in the process by only considering those who've made it to the inner circle.

Instead of looking for someone who's made the Washington standard, maybe the President should simply find someone worthy of respect who can do the job.

Comments (7)

Maybe it's because Washington leadership is so sick and twisted, that that is the best they have to offer.

Posted by: Daniel Stanton | March 29, 2010 7:25 AM    Report this comment

When you're a politician your whole life is about favors -- doing them and getting them. Just as it is impossible for a politician to waste a good crisis, it is impossible for one to waste an appointment to a position of power on anyone outside of their little incestuous circle of trust.

Posted by: Mark Sletten | March 29, 2010 7:51 AM    Report this comment

I agree 100%. As a former Army Officer I am especially insulted by this guy. What a phony! I've seen some cocky Generals before but none that made money off of their arrogance and hubris. I'm sure others have but not in the spotlight like this. He is unqualified for being so arrogant as to think he would get away with this if nothing else.

Posted by: Larry Maynard | March 29, 2010 7:59 AM    Report this comment

It is a sad day that I have to admit I was wrong on my post on the first Harding Blog. I had stated, at least this one isn't a criminal, pays his taxes and wasn't a radical activist... Well I am begining to believe those traits are minimum requirements to work in the current enviroment in DC. As a military and law enforcement veteran as well as just a tax-paying American, I find this parade of damaged souls and clowns insulting. Term limits are needed at the very least and a reevaluation of qualifications on the front side. These guys moral standards couldn't even be considered for an ATP rating. Maybe that standard should apply (I thought it did) to "our" employees as well...

Posted by: Chuck West | March 29, 2010 8:19 AM    Report this comment

Maybe Obama needs to start cleaning house with his staffers that are responsible for vetting these picks. Looks like it's still amateur hour up there in DC.

Posted by: Chris McLellan | March 29, 2010 9:23 AM    Report this comment

At this time in our history both major political parties seem to be consistent on only one principle, "reward your friends and punish your enemies".

It wouldn't surprise me to discover that the general earned his role as friend of the Obama administration through one or more generous contributions to the Obama campaign. The owner of a company with the wherewithal to go after $100,000,000 contracts is likely to be able to afford to be generous. If your reporting is correct, his justification for disabled veteran status is certainly creative. Please tell me he didn't win.

Just as the immediate past administration rewarded hard working Young Republican friends by offering them important state department postings in Iraq and virtually all previous administrations offered ambassadorships to financially generous friends (big donors), this administration is proving that it is no different, just a little less adept than some others in vetting its "friends".

Obama promised us change, but it appears that the only thing that really changed is that the Washington insider's mascot is now a donkey rather than an elephant.

Posted by: William Harper | March 29, 2010 10:26 AM    Report this comment

Obama has delivered on his promis for change. A change from bad to worse!!!

Posted by: Bill Emde | March 31, 2010 7:32 PM    Report this comment

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