To a certain extent I can understand why some GOP senators would be willing to vote for Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner even though he was likely a conscious tax-dodger. Geithner is probably the best person to head Treasury that a left-liberal like President Barack Obama could pick as far as most conservatives would be concerned. That you have to sacrifice some standards in the short term for the hope of a better long-term benefit to the economy ... I can understand that.
Now comes news that former Sen. Tom Daschle has tax issues that make Geithner's pale in comparison. Where Geithner owed about $40k, Daschle owes over $140k.
Since his loss to Sen. John Thune in 2004, Daschle has done consulting work for Democratic Party bigwig Leo Hindrey, former CEO of Global Crossing. Global Crossing, if you recall, made former DNC chief Terry McAuliffe very rich before making most of its other shareholders very poor when it declared bankruptcy.
Daschle's tax violations include his failure to report more than $80k in consulting income, his failure to report as income a car and driver provided to him by Hindrey and counting as charitable contributions money to groups that don't qualify for a tax write-off under IRS rules.
All of which begs the question: What does it take to be denied a job in the Obama administration? An active federal criminal investigation appears to be the line, considering that is what derailed New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's bid for the commerce secretary job.
Obama still has enormous political capital and the press is still in its lapdog mode. The long knives have yet to come out from most of the commentariat -- especially those on the left who would be howling for blood if a Republican had nominated tax cheats like Geithner and Daschle. Daschle may very well be confirmed, but what does this say about Obama's higher ethical standards? Not much. He's passed a rule about lobbyists working in his government, but he's issuing waiver after waiver to the point that the "rule" is more of a "guideline."
President Bill Clinton promised America the "most ethical administration ever" and we all know how that worked out. When it comes to Washington, ethics aren't a strong suit -- you're dealing with politicians after all. The sooner people realize that President Obama is a politician and not a messiah, the better off the public discourse will be. Obama's continued selection of tax cheats to fill his administration can only help.
On a related note: How is this quote from Sen. Dick Durbin supposed to be interpreted?
"If all you knew about Tom Daschle was that he used to be a senator, and he made a mistake and had to pay over $100,000 in back taxes, you have a right to be skeptical, even cynical. But if you know Tom Daschle, you know better," said Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate.
It sounds a lot like the Democratic Party in the senate was led by a simpleton for a decade or so.