Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Skippy of the Day: Tom Ridge

No, I'm not talking about the specific terror warning. Enough people are already discussing it and deciding whether or not it's a case of the sky falling. Instead he have a different little number from Tom Ridge. Take it away, Tom! A one and a two:

"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, 8/1/04

"We don't do politics in the Department of Homeland Security."--Tom Ridge, 8/3/04
First, 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).

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!".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fair point -- on both incidents. Police are inherently intimidating, and the officer should have restricted his witnessing to his off-duty hours. Jesus warns that those who abuse the Word or mislead his sheep will suffer a worse fate than " have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matt 18:6b NASB)

Tricky issue on Ridge's statement. Cabinet members are political animals, so there is some expectation of campaigning and supporting the boss. Perhaps we should have higher standards for defense officials in the middle of a major war. It's tough to say, and it would be tough make judgement calls while in such offices completely free of election affairs. I can easily see a war planner, thinking that a certain president is crucial to fighting a war, taking polling factors into account, all while in good conscience. It's a difficult call, but I'm willing to give Ridge the benefit of the doubt. That may just be my partisanship showing. -- David P.