Friday, December 03, 2004


Okay... NOT Algerian: Algeresque - as in "Bush nominees exemplify Horatio Alger heros," but it did get your attention, didn't it!?

That's what so amazed me about Bush's latest cabinet picks: their individual stories're so Horatio Algeresque - each PROVES that (1) the American Dream is alive and well, and that (2) the elusive qualities which make some people rise to the top from unbelieveably humble origins are qualities that our President admires in people, that (3) he seeks out these kind of people - and depends on them. YUP: these picks say a lot about America, and a lot about Bush, too.

Here're some thumbnails on the four Algerians:

Al Gonzales - the child of migrant workers and the product of public elementary and secondary schools; attended the Air Force Academy then Rice, and Harvard. (Read more HERE and HERE and HERE.)

Condoleeza Rice - the daughter of a minister who grew up in segregated Birmingham. A graduate of college at age 19. A concert pianist, fluent in Russian - and NFL-ese. First black female provost of a major university - Stanford. NSC member under Bush 41, before becoming the Bush 43's National Security Advisor - and soon to be Secretary of State; the first black female to hold that job. More details HERE and HERE and HERE.

Carlos Gutierrez - is a Cuban emigre whose impoverished family came here to escape Castro's totalitarian tyranny when Carlos was just 6 years old. A Bell Hop taught him English. His first job was driving a delivery truck in Mexico - for Kellogg, where he rose to become CEO. More HERE and HERE.

Bernard Kerik - well, beginnings do NOT get any more humble than his: he is the son of a prostitute - who abandoned him; he was then adopted by the Keriks. He grew up on the tough streets of Paterson, NJ and was a high school drop out. He became an army MP in South Korea, a prison warden in NJ - got his GED, then a New York City street-cop on the beat, and then a fearless undercover narcotics detective, and then became one of the most highly decorated cops in NYC history, then the Commisoner of Corrections in NYC, and then NYC Police Commissioner - as Bush said: the same job once held by Teddy Roosevelt. More HERE and HERE.

These are the kind of people that make us all proud to be Americans - and they should make all American proud of their president, too. He has chosen well.

UPDATE: WELCOME POLIPUNDIT READERS and fans of Lorie Byrd (and her blog Byrd Droppings)! Thanks for coming by! Please check out the Dec. & Nov. archives - there's some interesting stuff here you won't read anywhere else. Much of it recently linked to by Roger L. Simon, and Powerline, and Instapundit, and My Pet Jawa, and Dissecting Leftism, and Ace Pilots/Friends of Saddam and The Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid and Man Without Qualities and Outside the Beltway. Thanks to all and Cheers!


Anonymous said...

This "American Dream" thesis is horribly troubling. In each of these cases, the people being nominated exemplify incompetence or inexperience.

We need managers of these important agencies who are competent--not who have some great "life story."

Rice admitted before the 9/11 commission that she failed in her job to interpret intelligence coming from various agencies in the executive branch. She didn't learn from her mistakes as she was one of the administration's loudest voices claiming a non-existent link between Hussein and Al Quadea and the existence of WMDs in Iraq.

She was a bad choice to begin with as her faulty analysis of world affairs predated her ascendency to NSA (see her 1986 book "The Gorbachev Era" which talks of how the Soviet Union was going to be strong for decades to come).

Gonzalez has been nominated for Attorney General. The most basic qualification of an AG is an understanding of and respect for the rule of law. The AG is the nation's top law enforcement officer. His entire tenure as special counsel for Bush comprised of horribly inaccurate readings of the law and unilateral discarding of elements of jurisprudence which he didn't like. He has no business practicing law--let alone being AG. He should be disbarred.

Kerik is a former Chief of Police. His only experience in the Federal government was as an envoy to Iraq to train the IRaqi police force. Boy did he do a good job. It has been over a year and the Iraqi police force is hugely infiltrated by people sympathetic to the insurgency and are unable to maintain law and order in the country.

Homeland Security is one of the larges bureaucracies in the Federal government--comprising over 20 agencies dealing with a variety of functions--from Social Security to customs to immigration. This guy's only experience at managing was a single police force.

Bush, of course, is not a deep thinker. He is guided largely by his own sheltered background and bizarre adherence to wierd religious superstitions. Neither is he concerned with merit, experience, or, frankly, reality. Thus, it is not surprising that he would use superfluous criteria like "loyalty," or "Horatio Alger-ian" stories to make decisions as to who should be nominated for important posts.

The weird thing is, is that people, like the author of this blog, don't seem to think that experience or competence are important qualifications for cabinet secretaries.

The Anchoress said...

I suspect the reason President Bush so values these folks is because he understands that in the end, it's not money or privilege or bloodlines that makes a difference in a person's life. After all, he is the son of money, privilege and blood, and he was a drunk and a bit of a wastrel who took the opportunity his wife gave to him when she told him to choose between Jim Beam and his marriage, pulled himself up, and ran with it.

Whether you are up from material poverty or what Mother Theresa correctly identified as "spiritual poverty", you still have had to work hard to move beyond it - even with grace - it takes discipline, nerve and faith. I suspect that Bush feels a spiritual and psychological kinship with Ms. Rice, Mr. Gutierrez, Mr. Gonzalez and now Mr. Kerik that simply transcends any earthly understandings of where any of them started out. Each, in their own way, has had to overcome obstacles not of their own making. For all that George W. Bush was supposed to have had it "easier" than most, his history suggests that he could not lightly wear his own privilege.

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