Saturday, December 11, 2004

Another one bites the dust

Cabinet nominees just can't get enough of hiring illegal immigrants to perform household chores, and they usually pay a political price when the public learns about it. The latest victim of a "Nannygate" is Bernard Kerik, who withdrew his name as the nominee for homeland security secretary Friday after questions arose about his former housekeeper's immigration status. Kerik wasn't my top choice for the job, but it's sad to see him lose his chance at a Cabinet post because of a petty scandal.

Nannygates have become increasingly common in the political world. During Bill Clinton's presidency, Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood lost their shots at becoming attorney general because of such scandals, and Bobby Ray Inman missed out on a chance to be defense secretary. The Bush administration got its own taste of Nannygate in 2001 when Linda Chavez, the would-be labor secretary, had to step aside after media reports revealed that her maid was an illegal immigrant.

Hiring undocumented immigrants is against the law, of course, and so is failing to report their income to the IRS. But in the grand scheme of things, America's dirty little secret is that, barring a depression that causes mass unemployment, it needs immigrants willing to work cheaply at less-desirable jobs to keep the economy humming. Anger over immigration seems to be en vogue lately, and we should do more to ensure that terrorists don't enter the country through our porous borders. (More money for the U.S. Border Patrol, anyone?) The outrage over Cabinet nominees hiring illegal immigrants, though, just seems a little forced.

But hey, let's look on the bright side: With all of these illegal nannies roaming around out there, Hoover's new homeland security director should have all kinds of busy work.


Blogger W.C.G. said...

I don't think there's such a thing as a true nanny scandal. I think that's just become the "official reason" for nominees to step down, when something that would actually make people chatter comes up.

Think about the last decade-plus, this problem has been pretty much isolated to Cabinet secretaries. Why aren't more people from more walks of life having nanny scandals?

3:59 PM  
Blogger Alabamian said...

Excellent point. I wrote a little while ago about a potentially embarrassing inmate-cigarette scandal that Bernard Kerik oversaw while he was at the New York Correction Department. Linda Chavez would have been perhaps the most anti-union secretary of labor ever, and rumor has it that Kimba Wood was a Playboy bunny trainee in her younger days, which I'm sure wouldn't have gone over well with the GOP.

3:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

3:06 PM  

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