Tuesday, Apr. 28, 2009

The Daschle Debacle

Day 15
Feb. 3, 2009

"If 30 years of exposure to the challenges inherent in our system has taught me anything, it has taught me that this work will require a leader who can operate with the full faith of Congress and the American people, and without distraction. Right now, I am not that leader, and will not be a distraction."

Tom Daschle, Health and Human Services Secretary nominee, in a statement pulling out of the running for the position over his tax problems

"I'm here on television saying I screwed up."

President Obama, in a round-robin of television interviews responding to questions about two of his Cabinet nominees dropping out in one day because of tax problems

Geithner made it through — so why not Daschle? If the Treasury Secretary hadn't had tax problems of his own, Daschle might have been able to survive. But because of the public outrage that a second Obama Cabinet nominee hadn't paid all his taxes — as well as the disclosure that Daschle had done consulting work for many of the companies he would regulate at HHS — Daschle was forced to take a hit. Chief Performance Officer Nancy Killefer, who also had problems with back taxes, joins Daschle in withdrawing for consideration. The Administration denies that it pushed Daschle to resign, and Obama places the blame squarely on his shoulders during a round of six TV interviews, saying he failed to recognize that Daschle's problems had compromised his ability to serve.

What was supposed to be the news of the day gets buried by all the Daschle drama: Obama officially taps New Hampshire Republican Judd Gregg as his nominee for Commerce Secretary, the third Republican he would be adding to his Cabinet.

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