When Bernie Kerik received a presidential pardon nine months ago for eight felony convictions including tax fraud and lying to White House officials in 2004 during interviews for an appointment to be U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, he tweeted, "There are no words to express my appreciation and gratitude to President Trump."
But the man whose unconditional loyalty to Rudy Giuliani got him named Correction Commissioner and then Police Commissioner during the Mayor's second term borrowed a few words from Edmund Burke Nov. 7 in defense of Mr. Trump's claim that he's been the victim of vote fraud in his bid for re-election: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
It was a curious tweet, and for reasons that go beyond the fact that this quote from the man considered the founder of modern conservatism even though he died at the end of the 18th century have been most frequently invoked this year by Mr. Trump's political opponents: Mr. Kerik spelled the author's last name "Berke."
Twitter is a place where acronyms and hashtags are considered more important than proper spelling. But even on social media, misspelling the name of the person you are quoting to establish moral authority doesn't help your cause. It served as an inadvertent reminder that Mr. Kerik became Mr. Giuliani's Police Commissioner despite lacking a college degree at a time when that was a prerequisite for promotion to all ranks above Lieutenant in the NYPD.
"I guess Bernie takes his spelling lessons from Trump," Sidney Schwartzbaum, the former head of the Deputy Wardens/Assistant Deputy Wardens Association, who dealt with Mr. Kerik extensively and sometimes acrimoniously when he was Correction Commissioner, told us Nov. 11.
The other eyebrow-raising aspect of quoting Mr. Burke is that his brand of conservatism has largely been abandoned by Republican elected and appointed officials in service to Mr. Trump, whose governing style would be more accurately labeled reactionary.
Google "What is a Burkean conservative?" This is what pops up: it is someone "emphasizing the need for the principles of a transcendent moral order, manifested through certain natural laws to which society ought to conform in a prudent manner."
Applied to Mr. Trump, and for that matter Mr. Kerik, the laughter would begin with the phrase "principles of a transcendent moral order" and reach a crescendo at the words "prudent manner."
Mr. Schwartzbaum is a Republican who has been stunned at the way that GOP officials have continued to support the President even as he repeatedly defies the rule of law. He said those who were going along with his claim of election fraud despite the lack of supporting evidence "are the most-spineless, slobbering, disgusting people I've ever seen. Trumpism is gonna destroy the Republican Party."
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One campaign aide to Joe Biden told us that, rough transition or not as President Trump continues to insist he was cheated in the vote-count and his aides refuse to cooperate with the incoming administration, he believes once the President-elect's settled into office, he'll find legislative common ground with Republicans in Congress on an issue that has long had bipartisan support but that Mr. Trump never tried to move.
"I think the first major package you're going to see on the table is infrastructure," he predicted, which could have the dual benefit of producing long-needed repairs and improvements while generating tens of thousands of construction jobs across the nation.
Republicans may rediscover the aversion to deficit spending that they placed in a blind trust during Mr. Trump's presidency, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not been enthusiastic about such a bill. But the Biden aide said he thought his boss's good working relationships with many GOP lawmakers, including Mr. McConnell, could produce a deal.
"And Mitch McConnell can have his name on the bill, but it might get done with Susan Collins and Mitt Romney," he said, referring to two leading Republican moderates.
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