Should Ridge be confirmed?

By Steve Kirsch  (650) 279-1008
Version 2 / December 9, 2002

Consider this:

You wouldn't trust your money to a financial advisor who didn't have years of experience and a proven track record of success in money management. So why would you trust your life to someone who doesn't have any experience and track record in national security?

Of course you wouldn't and shouldn't. Ridge should not be confirmed. But will the Democrats band together and do the right thing?

Reasons to vote "No":

  • Because it's the right thing to do. Our country deserves a superb candidate for this critical position. Ridge isn't. Ridge, while a nice guy with executive skills, is mediocre and under qualified for this position. He's has no experience in any of the key areas required for success in the position: massive re-organizations, proven ability to get people to work together that previously did not, experience in national security and data analysis, successful track record in running a large federal agency.
  • Opposing his confirmation will make Democrats look tougher on national security than Republicans.
  • Opposing his confirmation will expose Bush as caring more about his friends than the welfare of the country. 
  • Opposing Ridge elevates us and makes Bush/Republicans look bad and soft on national defense
  • My tiny startup company's board would never approve a mediocre candidate for a key executive position, so why should the Senate?
  • Despite his great "qualifications", you'd clearly never pick Ridge to manage your personal finances. Why is so clear then that he would be qualified to manage your personal safety?


Q: Ridge hasn't had the authority to do his job. At least give him a chance to prove he can do it!

A: Bush said Ridge has done a "superb job." So clearly Bush believes that he has had a chance to demonstrate his ability! You just have to judge whether Ridge's accomplishments are superb. Most people I ask believe he's done a mediocre job. The only person I know who thinks he's done a superb job is Bush. As far as I know, there aren't any plans or strategies or processes. No critical thinking. You don't need authority over people to write a business plan. There isn't one. What has he accomplished that is so remarkable? It certainly wasn't Ridge who proposed the Department in the first place. If he were the right guy, he'd have used the past year to get all his plans in place for how we should make our country more secure. Seen any plans lately? Seen any goals??? Essentially, Ridge has had a whole year to show what he is capable of producing from a planning and strategy viewpoint. I've seen nothing. What have you seen?

Q: The normal practice is to allow the President latitude to pick his team. So unless he's way under-qualified, you should give the President the benefit of the doubt.

A: That is the tradition, but it isn't what the Constitution says. The Constitution intends that Cabinet appointees must have Senate concurrence. It was meant as a check and balance, not as a rubber stamp. Members of Congress are supposed to act in the best interests of their constituents. There are better candidates for this job. The Senate should demand the best for the American people. Look at it another way...if you were to make a short list of people with experience and accomplishments in the area of national security, Tom Ridge wouldn't make the list. The Senate should only confirm someone who at least meets the minimum qualifications for the job. Have you seen the job description and the job requirements from the White House? Is there one? Do you really think that Tom Ridge meets those requirements? The requirements should include:

  • A proven track record of successfully re-organizing a large department where the outcome was the new organization worked substantially better than the previous organization
  • 10+ years experience in dealing with domestic and foreign intelligence information
  • ....etc...

Q: Ridge was a respected Member of Congress and former Governor. He can do this job!

A: You should not assume that a former Member of Congress and former Governor can do anything. Is he equally qualified to be Treasury Secretary? Would you trust him running the economy more than a candidate with specific experience and track record? Could he run a software startup company better than a software entrepreneur with 10 years of experience? No. Can he run a bank better than someone who has done it for 20 years? No. Would he make a better Secretary of State than Colin Powell? So what special experience and demonstrated track record of accomplishment makes you think he is the best (or even a good) choice to run national security?

Note: there is apparently a large amount of research that the DNC did on Ridge. Suffice it to say that the evidence is there that he's not the right guy (if evidence matters).