Tom Daschle Pulls Out

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[Black Star News Editorial]

Tom Daschle has done the right thing and withdrawn his name from nomination as Secretary of Health and Human Services.

It was inevitable.

Even though he was a former Senate majority leader from 2001 to 2003, and he’s highly respected in Washington, D.C., he had no excuse for his tax transgressions.
He has already said that it was last June that he discovered that he owed $128,000 in taxes, for a car service that he had routinely used as part of his arrangement as a consultant and also for other unreported income; this was apart from the millions Daschle was paid for the consulting work, which itself was not part of the problem.

Daschle had said he previously hadn’t realized that he owed taxes on the car service, but that it dawned on him that he did owe payment.

The question has been why was it that it was only weeks ago that Daschle made the payments; after he already knew that he was to be nominated for his important position.

The clear implication –and it’s a hard one to dispel—was that he only made the payments because he knew that the issue would pop up during vetting for his confirmation hearing.

Daschle should have known better. How was he hoping to survive since he really had no legitimate explanation for his egregious conduct? He has done a very dishonorable thing.

It’s true that Daschle is one of the most qualified candidates to take charge of the mission to transform the nation’s healthcare system and eventually create a national health insurance coverage program. But this does not mean anything and everything flies.

It should not come as a huge surprise that the Daschle debacle has occurred, based on the accommodating and lenient position taken with respect to the case of Timothy Geithner, whose own tax problems, albeit minor, were important nonetheless—compared to Daschle’s. Ultimately, Geithner was confirmed.

So, are there different standards that have been set for President Obama’s candidates to meet in order to be confirmed? Yes, indeed; especially when compared to the corrupt patronage-based nepotism of the George Bush Administration.

Yet it was candidate Obama himself who raised the bar during the campaign with the mantra of "change" and the promise to end the old way of doing things in Washington. That’s why so many young voters, many first time voters, and many voters who had not cast their ballot four years earlier, voted. And they overwhelmingly supported Obama.

So, one can imagine the disappointment these Obama supporters felt when Daschle’s problems became public.

Their disappointment likely was intensified when even after disclosure of Daschle’s embarrassing conduct that President Obama insisted that he was standing behind candidate Daschle.

President Obama has very high approval rating and much valuable political capital. The president must preserve this capital for the big and worthy fights ahead; judging by the Republicans’ recalcitrant conduct in dealing with the president’s nearly $900 economic stimulus program, there are many major battles around the corner.

"Tom made a mistake, which he has openly acknowledged. He has not excused it, nor do I," President Obama said in a statement. "Now we must move forward, with our plan to lift this economy and put people back to work," he added.

Daschle should have been cut lose the moment he disclosed his predicament. Such missteps can erode the president’s stellar political currency.

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