THE country now has President Bush's second nominee for head of the Department of Homeland Security in his second term - Michael Chertoff, from New Jersey, a judge in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals based in Philadelphia. He should encounter none of the problems that derailed the nomination of Bernard Kerik.
In seeking a successor in that key post to former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, the first secretary of homeland security, Mr. Bush initially turned to Mr. Kerik, a former New York City law enforcement figure and protege of former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.
However, Mr. Kerik withdrew from the field of play last month when his employment of a nanny illegally in the country and some questionable associations in previous positions, made it clear that his nomination would not pass muster before the U.S. Senate.
As for Judge Chertoff, the public can assume the White House exercised due diligence before announcing the nomination, making certain that there was nothing unseemly in his past that would bob to the surface when Congress and the media started diving for information.
The best guarantee that Mr. Chertoff is clean is the fact that the Senate has confirmed him three times before to important posts, although the vetting that takes place for a position this senior will be far more rigorous than that for his previous posts.
Judge Chertoff's 26 years of experience in the law - including private practice, U.S. attorney, counsel to the Senate's Whitewater committee, head of the Justice Department's criminal division, and appellate judge - should have prepared him for the tasks that he will undertake if he is confirmed.
The one missing piece in his background is management experience that would help him oversee the huge, sprawling bureaucracy of the Department of Homeland Security. It was formed by combining 22 federal agencies and employs some 180,000 civil servants. A job like that can devour a person with no previous experience in running an administrative monster.
Absent some awful revelation, however, the Senate will certainly approve Mr. Chertoff, who should be capable of performing effectively in this important Cabinet post.
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