Setting the Standard in Washington


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.