05/04/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

What Is It With Men and Their Chauffeurs?

The first chauffeur was Joseph Lawless, a Massachusetts State Police Sergeant who served as driver for Governor William Weld. Weld was a good Governor, a Republican who balanced the state budget seven of his eight years in office, cut taxes and reformed Medicaid. Lawless so impressed Weld that in 1993 Weld appointed him Director of Public Safety at Massachusetts Port Authority, which includes Logan Airport. On September 11, 2001, five Arabic men boarded American Airlines flight 11 while five other Arabic men boarded United Airlines flight 175. Security took no notice of their arrival or departure. Just about an hour later, both planes crashed into the World Trade Center. A month later, Lawless lost his post at the airport.

The second chauffeur was named Bernie Kerik. He drove New York's Mayor Rudy Giuliani around town. He so impressed the Mayor that the Mayor made him Police Commissioner. He served sixteen months, then did four months in Iraq attempting, unsuccessfully, to reconstitute the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior. A year later, 2004, President Bush nominated him to be Secretary of Homeland Security. But Kerik was forced to withdraw from the nomination because he had employed an illegal alien as a nanny. Additionally, an investigation into Kerik's background had revealed that he was a close friend of the owner of a New Jersey company suspected of ties to organized crime. (Kerik had first been tied to the company in 2000 before being named Police Commissioner, but Mayor Giuliani said that he had been made unaware of that connection at that time.) In 2006, Kerik admitted in State Court that the company had paid for renovations for his home in the Bronx and paid $221,000 in fines, but received no jail sentence. And it was only last month that Kerik pleaded guilty in federal court to tax fraud and lying to federal officials. He was sentenced to four years in prison.

The third chauffeur is named David W. Johnson, and his boss was David Paterson, the Governor of New York. He rose rapidly to become the Governor's closest advisor. Unfortunately, Johnson has been accused of knocking around his girlfriend, and after she got a temporary "order of protection" against him the State Police intervened in the matter. Governor Paterson himself then spoke to her on the phone, and after hearing from him, she did not appear in court to make the temporary order permanent. Then the story made the front page of The New York Times. The State Attorney General is now investigating the charges, the Governor has agreed to not stand for election next November, and there is much doubt about whether or not he will be able to hold onto his office for the next year.

What is this thing between public officials and their drivers? Why do public officials appoint them to positions of great power and responsibility while paying so little attention to their credentials?

In Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS Pinafore, the First Lord of the Admiralty, a former office boy, sings of polishing up the handle of the firm's big front door so carefully that now he has become "the ruler of the Queen's Navee". Perhaps if chauffeurs polish up the egos of their bosses zealously, they too become rulers of all that they see.

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