I’ve made no secret of my support of Barack Obama, but I also posted last week about my axiety about misallocated stimulus. Policy matters we can debate, but I hope all of you realize how impressive it is that Barack Obama has apologized for nominating former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to be his secretary of Health and Human Services.
We hold our public servants to an incredibly high standard and sometimes I think it’s unfortunate that people (like me) who haven’t paid taxes on for their domestic help can’t ever participate in public life. But Tom Daschle knew the standard and he cut corners because people like trade on their connections to build wealth after they leave public office. I certainly can understand and don’t begrudge anybody the chance to make money, but I do think Daschle should have known better if he ever wanted to return to public life. Why did he not pay a really thorough accountant to dot his i’s and cross his t’s. I can only guess it’s that he didn’t want to pay the taxes. That’s the sad thing and kind of makes you struggle to believe in a guy like Daschle who tries to cut corners and then complain that Republicans are friends of big business and avaricious in their own right.
It seems its almost impossible to find a completely qualified, buttoned-up set of cabinet secretaries these days. We’ve already lost Richardson and Daschle and nearly lost Holder. One wonders how these kinds of stories effect a generation of 30-year-olds who have to watch every step if they ever want to hold public office.
But, to me the big takeaway from this chapter is that President Obama said, “I’m sorry.” He was man enough to admit the mistake and he’s fixing it. No spinning of the story. Does anybody really believe his handlers told him to apologize? No way. He did it because he knows what’s right. No matter your politics, please appreciate how rare public apologies are in this country. We are now a country run by somebody who trusts his own judgement on matter of conscience.