At the Washington Post's "She The People" blog, Mary C. Curtis argues that if President Barack Obama nominates New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly as head of Homeland Security, they should both expect pointed questions about the department's massively aggressive stop-and-frisk program and his record in general.
But while the president was not asked, nor did he speak, about the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case in Sanford, Fla., one that has spawned heated discussions about racial profiling across the country, he did speculate about a possible candidate for Homeland Security chief, someone who has become a lightning rod on the issue.
New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly would be "well-qualified" to run the Department of Homeland Security, Obama said in an interview with Univision's affiliate in the New York/New Jersey area. He hasn't actually named Kelly as his choice to replace outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who is leaving to head the University of California system.
Was putting such a strong endorsement out there a first step toward seeing how Kelly's name is received, or was it a case of the president being polite when being put on the spot? Obama said the commissioner "might be very happy where he is." If Kelly isn't, though, Obama said he'd want to know about it. "I think Ray Kelly is one of the best there is," Obama said.
Never shy New York politicians are weighing in. Kelly has the bipartisan support of Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, and Congressman Peter King, a New York Republican. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) called Kelly "uniquely qualified" for the job, in the New York Daily News. She cited, in addition to NYPD experience, his work during the Clinton administration, leading the U.S. border patrol and overseeing enforcement agents at the Treasury Department.
Read Mary Curtis' entire piece at the Washington Post.
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Mary C. Curtis is a Roll Call columnist and contributor to NPR and NBCBLK. She has worked at the New York Times, the Baltimore Sun, the Charlotte Observer and Politics Daily and as a contributor to the Washington Post. She is a senior facilitator for the OpEd Project at Cornell and Yale universities. Follow her on Twitter.