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.
That Bratton should endorse a Democrat for political office is in itself no cause for indignation. That he should endorse this particular Democrat most certainly is. In making his endorsement, Bratton has lent the prestige of his office and his personal imprimatur to a candidate who, his lack of qualifications for the office aside, has shown himself to be, at the very least, at ease in the company of some truly contemptible people.
John McCain considers it impolite to discuss Mr. Obama’s twenty-year relationship with Jeremiah Wright, but the rest of us need not feel so constrained. Mr. Obama and his devoted acolytes ask us to believe the fanciful claim that he was unaware of the more inflammatory sermons Wright delivered during his long service as pastor of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ, even as Wright presided over Obama’s marriage to his wife Michelle and baptized their two daughters, even as Obama himself described Wright as a spiritual mentor and role model. One might ask Chief Bratton his opinion of Jeremiah Wright, and how he might have reacted had he been present at one of Wright’s hateful diatribes.
One might also ask Bratton his opinion of Rashid Khalidi, in whose home Obama often dined when Khalidi lived in Chicago. As Mona Charen wrote in June, Khalidi, now a professor at Columbia, was once director of the official press agency for the Palestine Liberation Organization, and to this day defends Palestinian violence against Israel. Would William Bratton feel as comfortable sitting down to break bread in Khalidi’s home as was Barack Obama?
But as a police officer I am most disappointed in Chief Bratton’s willingness to overlook Mr. Obama’s long association with William Ayers and his wife, Bernadine Dohrn, both of whom are unrepentant former members of the radical and, yes, treasonous, Weather Underground. Writer Stanley Kurtz has done the nation a service by documenting (here, here, here, here, and here) the ties between Obama and Ayers, putting the lie to Obama’s risible claim that Ayers was no more than “a guy who lived in my neighborhood.” Is Bratton proud to cast his lot with such a man?
On October 20, 1981, when Bratton was still a young cop in Boston, former members of the by then defunct Weather Underground, along with members of the equally radical and treasonous Black Liberation Army, staged an armored car robbery in Nanuet, New York, in which a Brinks guard and two police officers were shot to death. Neither Ayers nor Dohrn were involved in the robbery, but neither have they disavowed the savagery carried out by their former associates in the group they themselves organized and led. Indeed, Dohrn spoke approvingly of even the most grotesque “anti-establishment” violence. Following the 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders in Los Angeles, crimes for which Charles Manson and several of his followers were convicted, Dohrn is reported to have said, “Dig it! First they killed those pigs and then they put a fork in their bellies. Wild!”
Ayers himself escaped punishment for any crimes he may have committed during his days with the Weather Underground. Charges of conspiracy and planting bombs were dismissed when it was revealed that illegal wiretaps were used in the investigation. “Guilty as hell, free as a bird,” he said later. “America is a great country.” Would Bratton be welcomed into the Ayers-Dohrn home as Barack Obama was? And what would Los Angeles’s police chief say to them if he were?
I do not suggest Barack Obama shares the views held by his acquaintances mentioned above, but rather that he was not sufficiently repulsed by them to have excluded such questionable people from his circle. Does William Bratton, chief of police of America’s second-largest city, share this lack of revulsion?
Bratton was once a supporter of Hillary Clinton, but he has shown an uncanny ability to pivot and hitch himself to the only Democratic train still on the tracks. If Barack Obama is victorious in November, will he reward Bratton with the federal law enforcement post he has long been rumored to seek? This is not an outcome to be wished for, but at least it would get him out of Los Angeles. The men and women of the LAPD would not miss him.