Boy, Bernard Kerik didn’t know how tough Washington is, and he certainly seems to have had no idea that Bush has no problem diminishing, trashing and destroying anyone that embarrasses him. This WPost story is a cautionary tale for anyone that Bush initially puts his arm around. Chimpy’s team (lead by Alberto Gonzales) f*cked up the vetting process to catch Kerik’s prevarications, so the blame for this had to go onto Kerik.

Kerik, who withdrew his own nomination Friday and apologized yesterday for embarrassing Bush, was asked numerous times by White House lawyers if he had employed an illegal immigrant or failed to pay taxes on domestic help, the sources said.

Kerik was told he would humiliate his family, himself and the president if he lied on either account, the officials said. He responded with firm denials. After digging deeper, however, Kerik said he discovered last week that he might have a problem on both accounts and withdrew his name.

In the vetting process, which was conducted by the office of White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales, Kerik also never mentioned that a New Jersey judge had issued a warrant for his arrest in 1998 over a civil dispute over unpaid bills, the sources said. The existence of the dispute was first reported by Newsweek Friday night.

It is unclear why White House lawyers could not uncover a warrant that Newsweek discovered after a few days of research, although some are blaming Bush’s insistence on speed and secrecy for failing to catch this and other potential red flags in Kerik’s background.

…Bush did not say anything about the matter yesterday, but he teased reporters by cupping his hand to his ear as he walked across the White House’s South Lawn to his helicopter, as if to invite a question. Asked whether he was upset about Kerik, the president smiled and cupped his hand to his ear again, even though he appeared to have heard the question.

The other lesson for Kerik — sh*t sticks to you when you don’t have someone willing to apply the teflon — this isn’t NY politics, where the rough and tumble, tough-guy can get by politically with some “ethical battle scars” and oh, outright lying and survive, since most other politicians will cover for each others’ indiscretions. Bush has no problem sucker-punching people that make him look bad — that’s rule #1 on how to get on Shrub’s loyalty list — you fall on the sword for the Chimperor. Bernie just got schooled on that one — clearly Rudy protected him on all counts on this in the past.

And, as I said yesterday, Kerik’s problems that infuriated the White House were more than a “nanny problem.” That was just the least onerous (but still legitimate) reason to dump him.

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding