Man Without Qualities

Saturday, June 15, 2002

Just Say "No"

UPDATE: Mickey Kaus posts an excellent expansion and explanation of why "Homeland" just isn't the right term - no way, no how.

But for the reasons described below in this post, I completely disagree with his endorsement of the worthy Ms. Noonan's enthusiasm for appointment of the worthy Mr. Giuliani as head of the proposed Department of Homeland Security.

Mr. Kaus says it isn't going to happen - and I do agree with that. He also endorses the term "domestic" in lieu of "homeland" and notes the connection between "homeland" and "heimat" - and his is a day earlier than the post below.

UPDATE: And see the Nine Billion Names of George Santayana above.


It is hard for me to believe that for the second time in just a little while I differ so strongly from the excellent Peggy Noonan, who is urging that "the first and more important" thing the President should do in connection with his proposed Department of Homeland Security "is to name Rudy Giuliani now as his nominee for head of the new department."

Mr. Giuliani is a wonderful, capable man. But the President would be crazy to appoint Mr. Giuliani as head of the Department of Homeland Security.

Why? Because Mr. Giuliani does not have the correct temperament for high appointed office - not even close. While the events are now apparently beyond living memory for many people, the President and Ms. Noonan would do well to recall that Mr.Giuliani first came to prominence as United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York - a position he obtained as the then-protege of Senator Alfonse M. D'Amato, Republican, New York.

Mr. Giuliani rose to prominence mostly by virtue of high-profile prosecution of Wall Street figures, some of which were still in process when Mr. Giuliani decided to leave that office. Mr. Giuliani rightly considered the fate of those cases to be very important to the fate of his political career - and that's where things got ugly.

Senator D'Amato had arranged Mr. Giuliani's appointment, and expected to similarly arrange the appointment of Mr. Giuliani's successor - as was his right according to long established United States Senate custom. But Mr.Giuliani wanted a big say in naming his own successor as United States Attorney. In fact, he made a big issue of it and embarrassed his former mentor - resulting in a huge and enduring rift between the two men. Ms. Noonan correctly notes that "Mr. Giuliani ... supported Mario Cuomo over George Pataki in 1994." He did that because Mr. Pataki was Senator D'Amato's new protege - and Mr. Giuliani had hard feelings about that.

Does Mr. Bush want to risk a repeat of that performance? Anyone who urges the appointment of Mr. Giuliani to the sensitive position of head of the Department of Homeland Security is not doing either Mr. Bush or Mr. Giuliani any favors.

Mr. Giuliani is a brilliant, decent, capable man. He should hold high elected office - he performed brilliantly in his past high elected office. His personality is most naturally that of an executive - but a position such as the Senate would probably be fine, too. Certainly he would serve New York better than either of its two current Senators. The President should use his influence to help Mr. Giuliani obtain high elected office. The President might even appoint Mr. Giuliani to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals - where people are supposed to assert their independence (within limits).

But high appointed office within the executive branch? No. Never. Crazy.

I agree wholeheartedly with Ms. Noonan that the term "Homeland" is not the correct word. I suggest "Department of Domestic Security" as the name for the new department.

"Domestic" sounds more "homey" than "heimat."

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