Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Daschle Withdraws

The AP reported minutes ago - - -

Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination on Tuesday to be President Barack Obama's Health and Human Services secretary, dealing potential blows to both speedy health care reform and Obama's hopes for a smoother start as president.

"Now we must move forward," Obama said in a written statement accepting "with sadness and regret" Daschle's surprise request to be removed from consideration.

A day earlier, Obama had said he "absolutely" stood by Daschle in the face of problems over back taxes and potential conflicts of interest.

Daschle, the former Senate Democratic leader and a strong backer of Obama's presidential bid, said he would have been unable to operate "with the full faith of Congress and the American people."

"I am not that leader, and will not be a distraction" to Obama's agenda, he said.

Obama had given Daschle two jobs—to be White House health czar on top of the post leading the Health and Human Services Department—and Daschle is relinquishing the czar post too.

Daschle's stunning statement came less than three hours after another Obama nominee also withdrew from consideration, and also over tax problems. Nancy Killefer, nominated by Obama to be the government's first chief performance officer, said she didn't want her bungling of payroll taxes on her household help to be a distraction.

Daschle was the third high-profile Obama nominee to bow out. Obama initially had tapped Bill Richardson to be Commerce secretary, but the New Mexico governor withdrew amid a grand jury investigation into a state contract awarded to his political donors.

The entire AP story’s here.

My first thoughts:

Daschle’s withdrawal was called for and a smart move.

Opposition to Daschle’s nomination was growing and would’ve gotten stronger.

This morning’s NY Times’ editorial advising him to withdraw would surely have been followed by scores, if not hundreds, of newspapers telling him the same thing.

Not all the sleaze/scandal surrounding Daschle has hit the headlines yet. For instance, he claimed a homeowner’s tax break available only to DC residents at the same time he was a Senator from South Dakota and constitutionally required to be a resident of that state.

Daschle has more than tax problems. In the past few years he’s taken maga-bucks from health provider interests. Whatever his friends want to call it, most of the public see it as influence peddling.

Daschle’s problems hurt President Obama on two counts: 1) they make a mockery of the “Change” image Obama wants to project; and 2) Daschle’s nomination has given the public reason to question Obama’s judgment.

By withdrawing, Daschle limits the damage to Obama.

Sen. Chris Dodd must be relieved he won’t have to vote to confirm his pal.

Rep. Charles Rangel has to be happy no reporter can now ask him: “Do you see any reason why Daschle’s tax problems should disqualify him from holding a public office?”

More tonight.


Anonymous said...

Though Obama stated in his interview with Chris Wallace that the decision was Daschle's to withdraw, one has to believe that Obama (following the NY Times editorial this morning) decided to cut his losses and gave Daschle the boot.
One has to wonder about the vetting process - just who had a tin ear regarding the tax issue. Three nominees with tax problems - is three too many. I hope that someone in the administration makes the point that the tax code needs major revision. If one wants to believe as so many in the Congress who spoke on behalf of Geithner and Daschle that theirs' were honest mistakes (I don't buy that for a moment but then I am quite cynical) then obviously the tax code is just too complicated if three people of such "great intellect" were too dumb to figure it out, what about the rest of the country? I have always aintained that if I, a college graduate, cannot figure out my taxes and have to pay an expert to do them then it is time for reform. Though I always believed that "Moonbeam Brown" had smoked a little too much ganja, I did believe he was on to something with his calls for a flat tax. I would like a flat tax which takes one two minutes to complete on a postcard coupled with a VAT on everything but food and basic services (utilities and water/sewage). THis way, people can make decisions - do I want to save or do I need this particular item - If I want the item then I pay for that hedonism. A win-win proposition as it would also get all those in the underground economy who currently pay nothing - at least any purchases (drug-dealer bling) would net the government some income.

JWM said...

Dear cks,

Thanks for your comments, not least because they often bring back to my active memory material that's been "Inactive" for years.

Such was the case when you mentioned "Moonbeam Brown."

How could I forget?

Mind you, it wasn't because of ganja.

(Believe that, no matter what you hear from the trolls.)

More on your comment tomorrow.