Like most police officers in America, I have thus far found myself immune to the many and varied charms of Barack Obama. Cops, regardless of their political affiliation, tend to be conservative, certainly few more so than I. Furthermore, we can spot a con job, and though Senator Obama has a smoother delivery than most who have risen from the fetid pond of Chicago politics, he nonetheless strikes me as a man who, should I find myself in his company, would have me checking for my wallet and watch after he had gone.
But a strange thing happens to a cop once he sets himself to the task or advancing through the ranks of his police department: He becomes less influenced by concerns of enforcing the law and more preoccupied with hewing to the regnant politics of the city in which he serves. As a friend very aptly describes the process, a cop forfeits one vertebra with each promotion he achieves, with the sad result often being that by the time he is appointed chief of police he is no longer fit to be classified among the phylum Chordata.
Witness the metamorphosis of Los Angeles Police Department chief William Bratton. Once decorated for valor while serving as a young police officer in Boston, he has, over the course of his ascent to law enforcement prominence, surrendered his vertebrae to various pols in Boston, New York, and Los Angeles, adapting like a remora feeding on the scraps left behind by whichever larger fish he found himself following. While in the employ of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, for example, Bratton was the tough-talking commissioner of the NYPD, bringing about a truly remarkable drop in crime in a city that had been descending into state of lawless chaos.
Though his success in reducing crime in Los Angeles has been only slightly less dramatic, gone is the shoot-from-the-lip Bill Bratton who struck fear into the hearts of Times Square hookers, squeegee-wielding bums, and all other strata of New York’s criminal rabble. Today, Bratton is a more soft-spoken man, conveniently reflecting the politics of a city where virtually the entire municipal government is made up of people of the Left.
But with Bratton’s latest act of political calculation and expediency, he has handed over whatever meager fragments of a spine that might have remained, to the point that it is now a wonder the man can stand upright at all. Last Friday, the Los Angeles Times reported that Bratton had recorded a telephone message to be used in “robocalls” in support of Barack Obama’s campaign for president. And what a shame this is.