Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Daschle quits, Obama admits mistake (on TV!)

Tom Daschle withdrew his name from consideration for Secretary of Health and Human Services. Good for him. He didn't want to become a distraction, which is what he was becoming. He probably could've gotten through the nomination process, given that the Democrats control the Senate and most of them are good friends of his, but he would have been politically wounded, and Obama with him. The people involved claim that it was his decision, which I am willing to believe. This would have followed him. It also didn't smell right. It wasn't just that it was a mistake paying taxes. Part of it involved a clerical error on the part of the company he was working for. That would have been understandable. But part of it involved being driven around in a chaffeured car. Talk about a symbol of the rich. That's a bad visual. Kudos for him for doing the right thing.

I'm a little disappointed, because I was initially supportive of him as Secretary of HHS; I was looking forward to a very accomplished and smooth Washington operator taking on one of the toughest jobs there is right now. We might need all of that insider knowledge and experience to crack this nut called the healthcare crisis.

But then another part of just wants to scream "What an idiot!" How hard is it to pay your damn taxes? There's no excuse for not knowing the laws when you're one of the people writing them.

The upside is that Obama handled it brilliantly. He was interviewed on MSNBC by Brian Williams, and - amazing for a president - he owned up to it. He admitted that mistakes were made, and he took responsibility.

I think we should all take a moment, stop, think, take a deep breath, and appreciate real leadership when we experience it.

As Andrew Sullivan notes, it took Obama two weeks to do what George W. Bush couldn't do in eight years. And will probably never do in his entire life.

Here's the video of the interview with Brian Williams. One thing that I noticed is that Obama can do the politician thing of reciting talking points, but he can also answer questions honestly, and think about the answers. Wow.

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