- The Washington Times - Monday, August 3, 2009

CLEANING HOUSE

The mighty often run afoul of authorities by employing illegal nannies. For former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, it was household help, says Ronald Kessler.

Mr. Chertoff flouted immigration laws “in a very personal way,” Mr. Kessler tells Inside the Beltway.

The former Washington Post and Wall Street Journal reporter has penned a tell-all book about such situations: “In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect” hits book shelves Tuesday.

“In October 2008, Immigration and Customs Enforcement within DHS fined James D. Reid $22,880 for allegedly employing illegal immigrants when his Maryland cleaning company worked at Chertoff’s home,” Mr. Kessler explains. “On the face of it, that did not make sense, since Secret Service agents protecting Chertoff would have been expected to check the background - including citizenship - of anyone allowed in the DHS’ secretary’s home.”

They started to - until the secretary’s wife, Meryl J. Chertoff, “admonished agents for ‘hassling’ the workers.”

The agents dropped their security protocols “out of fear of Mrs. Chertoff,” though they knew workers were giving “bogus” information, Mr. Kessler says. He based his findings on comments from two agents who were there at the time. Name checks and other protocols became a rarity.

The truth eventually surfaced, however, and Mr. Reid was fired and fined.

“Secret Service agents act as human surveillance cameras and observe everything that goes on behind the scenes in the president’s inner circle,” Mr. Kessler observes.

FAULT LINE

Heath care reform has confused everybody, including Democratic lawmakers who are loath to read the 1,018 pages of legislation - but are still jittery that voters might look askance at the kajillion-dollar chaos.

When in doubt, blame someone else. To keep things interesting in the summer doldrums, the Senate Republican Communications Center is now tracking the “Democrat blame game,” basing its conclusions on recent public statements from party heavies.

So. The confusion, the infighting, the ill will. Just whose fault is it?

The media and the Republican leadership are to blame, according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. No, it’s the insurance industry, claims House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. No, wait - the lobbyists, special-interest groups, naysayers and cynics are behind it, says President Obama.

Hold on. Mr Obama himself is at fault, proclaims Sen. Max Baucus of Montana. Nuh-uh. It’s Mr. Baucus, says Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia. Blame the Blue Dogs, says Rep.Henry A. Waxman of California. And last but not least, Rep. Maxine Waters of California blames White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

And Mr. Emanuel? He’s not blamed anyone in particular. Yet.

PAUL TELLS ALL

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has little sympathy for those who can’t fathom health care reform.

“The essence is really quite simple: regulation of insurers, so that they can’t cherry-pick only the healthy, and subsidies, so that all Americans can afford insurance. Everything else is about making that core work,” Mr. Krugman says at his Times blog, concluding, “What it means for the individual will be that insurers can’t reject you, and if your income is relatively low, the government will help pay your premiums.”

And everyone else can shut their cake hole, perhaps.

“That’s it. Any commentator who whines that he just doesn’t understand it is basically saying that he doesn’t want to understand it,” the columnist says.

GATES’ WAY

(Corrected paragraph:) The beer summit is over; an uneasy peace lingers. Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. sent a bouquet of tulips to Lucia Whalen, the woman whose 911 call led to his arrest for disorderly conduct just over two weeks ago. During a public appearance at the Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival on Sunday, Mr. Gates said that the issues of race and class still loom.

“They have not been resolved,” he said, later adding, “I should have been funnier in the kitchen of my house on July 16.”

Mr. Gates divulged he would meet again with Sgt. James Crowley, the Cambridge policeman who took him into custody. Lunch, a family dinner, a Boston Celtics game, perhaps.

“I offered to get his kids into Harvard if he doesn’t arrest me again,” Mr. Gates observed.

POLL DU JOUR

51 percent of Americans say Supreme Court nominee JudgeSonia Sotomayor is a liberal.

29 percent say she is moderate.

16 percent are unsure of her ideology.

4 percent say she is conservative.

41 percent say she “should be” confirmed.

37 percent disagree.

21 percent are not sure.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted July 28-29.

Tips, announcements, tattle to jharper@washington times.com or 202/636-3085.

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