Tom Daschle withdrew his name from consideration as Health and Human Services Secretary amid another tax controversy for President Barack Obama’s young administration. From Reuters:
Obama said in a statement he accepted [Daschle's] decision “with sadness and regret” because Daschle was highly qualified for the post, and he acknowledged in television interviews later that he had erred in not anticipating the problems.
“I think this was a mistake. I think I screwed up and I take responsibility for it,” Obama told CNN, adding he did not want to send a message there is one standard for the powerful and another standard for ordinary people.
There are a couple of things here that concern me. The first, President Obama’s assertion that he had erred in not anticipating the problems. Applying the rules of common English usage, the President appears to be saying that he knew of Daschle’s tax issues in advance, but failed to anticipate that they would be controversial. I would have to respectfully assert that, controversy notwithstanding, the tax issues themselves should have been grounds to disqualify Daschle from nomination, whose name should have been withdrawn by the President, as soon as the they were revealed.
Second, and this brings us to the barn door, is President Obama’s assertion that he doesn’t want to establish a double standard, whereby ordinary citizens are be held to a higher standard than Cabinet officials. I’m sorry to be the one to have to point this out, but the double standard has already been established by President Obama’s failure to withdraw Timothy Geithner’s name from nomination immediately upon learning of his tax troubles and subsequently allowing him to be confirmed as Secretary of the Treasury.
President Obama claims his administration has in place a set of ethics requirements that exceeds those of any previous administrations. That may be true, but what good are those requirements if all the White House is doing is boasting about them without really applying them to the process of governing?
Read the full Reuters article.
From Maureen Dowd:
…Americans were desperate to trust someone when they made Barack Obama president. His debut has left them skeptical about his willingness to smack down those who would flout his high standards or waste our money.
Just taking another opportunity to point out that saying you have high standards does not equal having high standards. In the first weeks of his presidency, President Obama has failed to demonstrate that his high standards are anything more than empty words.