"But we must understand that the kind of information available to us today is the result of the President's leadership in the war against terror."--Tom Ridge, 8/1/04First, a digression. There was an incident that happened to Mrs. Mosley and I three years ago when we were still dating. We were eating at a restaurant and a large, well built police officer came over and starting talking very pleasantly to us. The conversation was small talk about how we were such a cute young couple and how it did his heart good to see us happy together. After several minutes of this, he slyly segued into a religious spiel and handed us a Christian tract (A tract that, contrary to his very pleasant demeanor, was pretty much wall-to-wall fire and brimstone).
"We don't do politics in the Department of Homeland Security."--Tom Ridge, 8/3/04
At the time, this ticked me off and I said as much later on in the car. Mrs. Mosley expressed bewilderment at why this would annoy me so much. The reason was not that he was soliciting for his faith and his church. The reason was not even that he was doing it inside a restaurant. The reason was that he was doing it while in uniform. Even when he's off duty, as long as he wears that uniform he is a representative of the government. Furthermore, unlike such innocuous government positions as clerks and secretaries, he's entrusted with the public's protection.
Now I'm not saying that if I were to argue with him in the restaurant, then he could have possibly reached for his weapon. Nonetheless, the intimidation factor is still there. The officer knew that he would get more attention, and respect, by wearing the uniform while delivering his pitch. That, my friends, is an abuse of power and he was probably smart enough to know that.
Ridge should stick to giving terror warnings (i.e. his job) and that's it. If he thinks that his boss does such a super job, fine. He should say it during his off hours or, at the very least, do it at a campaign event, not at a press conference to announce an elevated terror warning. The last thing an American population paranoid of terror needs to hear from a man in authority over their safety is, "Vote for my Boss...or else!".