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In withdrawing from consideration for secretary of health and human services, former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle had five words of explanation: “I read the New York Times.” The Times this morning published an editorial calling for Daschle to withdraw. So he did. Daschle (indeed everybody) should have read the Washington Post instead. The Post ran an editorial saying that Daschle’s sins were disturbing but not disqualifying and, “if Mr. Obama still wants” him, “he’s entitled to have him.” True, this backhanded endorsement was in some ways more insulting than the Times’s magisterial, “Go, sir.” The Post made Daschle seem like pineapple chunks on your pizza—sure, go ahead, have them if you want them. (But why would you want them?) Nevertheless, the Post did not order him out.

So Timothy Geithner is now treasury secretary, and his success or failure at that job will soon leave his own tax problems as a forgotten footnote. Daschle, meanwhile, knows that for the rest of his life, and in his obituary, the key fact about him will be that he had to withdraw from a big government position because he didn’t pay his taxes. And, if anything, Geithner’s case is more egregious. The amounts involved are similar. But look at the differences. In his new job, Geithner is in charge of the Internal Revenue Service. Furthermore, Geithner broke a well-known and uncomplicated rule involving the way employees of the International Monetary Fund pay their Social Security taxes, whereas Daschle’s error was in the murky area of when a perk like a car and driver gets treated like taxable income. So what explains why Daschle had to withdraw and Geithner didn’t?

It could just be that Geithner is a better card player. He knew when to hold’em while Daschle was too quick to fold’em. Or it might be that Treasury secretary is a hotter job than secretary of health and human services at the moment. People are scared to death and wouldn’t care if Geithner had chopped his mother’s head off if he is in other respects the best qualified candidate. It might be that Geithner’s indiscretion really was about taxes, which aren’t all that interesting, whereas Daschle’s is actually about being Senate majority leader and then making $5 million over two years as an influence peddler. It’s only about taxes the way they got Al Capone on taxes.

But the main reason that Geithner survived while Daschle didn’t is that Daschle came second. Second is exactly the wrong place to be. The malefactor who comes first gets away with it because the issue is new and we’re not entirely sure how angry we are supposed to be about it. The one who comes fourth or fifth likely gets away with it because we’ve started to get bored with the story line and, anyway, our bloodlust has been satisfied. But the malefactor who comes second feels the full fury of our wrath.

Or maybe it’s that the New York Times editorial page is more influential than the Post’s. No, that can’t be it.

By Michael Kinsley  | February 3, 2009; 6:53 PM ET
Categories:  Kinsley  | Tags:  Michael Kinsley  
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Comments

There's a long line of nominees whose nominations failed because of tax problems: Zoe Baird, Kimba Wood, Linda Chavez, to name three.

Geitner's nomination and confirmation were a travesty. Daschle's was at least as egregious.

In Daschle's case, I think he thought he wouldn't have the votes in the Senate in a week. Better to withdraw now than enrage all those Senators and administration officials you need to be friends with to make more millions influence-peddling.

Really a shocking spectacle. Daschle's hubris got ahead of his brain.

These last few months have seen a parade of Democrats in disgrace. Politics does cycle. Sometimes with amazing rapidity.

Posted by: DagnyT | February 3, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

I think Geithner is more egregious, too. I think he's a liar and what he did was intentional. He needs to go. I think Daschle was in the Senate so long and so used to freebies, he just didn't even think about the how and why of the car and driver. It was just supposed to be there. Both of them are full fledged maggots on the people. Daschle used to be one of my heroes and I used to think he should run for President. The greed got him. We need term limits.

Posted by: edismae | February 3, 2009 8:27 PM | Report abuse

I agree that Geithner survived because he was Too Big to Fail (yuk, yuk), while Daschle and the OMB woman were expendable. What that reveals is, decisions are being made according to standards other than ethics.

Posted by: Compared2What | February 3, 2009 9:34 PM | Report abuse

I still haven't seen, either in The Post or in the Times, any explanation of how three years' use of a car can cost a quarter of a million dollars. Three years use of a jetliner, sure. But a car?

Posted by: donnolo | February 3, 2009 9:39 PM | Report abuse

"So what explains why Daschle had to withdraw and Geithner didn’t?"
__________________________________

I'm guessing Daschle counted the votes and they just weren't there.

And I'd have to agree with donnolo: how do you owe over $60k/year just in TAXES on the use of a car & driver??? It seems like $60K/year is more like what you'd pay TOTAL... But then I've never had a professional driver, so what do I know?

Geithner's mistake (using entering the wrong kind of income into TurboTax) was a lot more comprehensible - Daschle's just seems too weird.

Posted by: dj333 | February 3, 2009 10:18 PM | Report abuse

bravo on all counts, except one: It took intestinal fortitude and extreme hubris to nominate either of these men, both caught cheaply by cheap acts, both in direct contrast to the way America envisions Obama. Though both of them were perhaps allies and perhaps great experts even, America is a big enough country to have non-tax evaders in charge of its health and taxes. At least I'd like to think so. Both are demerits and moments of shame for Obama's image, not that either will be remembered next year. Still, both reflect how flexible America's laws have become for the insiders of politics. No wonder Rove and Cheney can obfuscate their emails through RNC records. I find all of it sad.

Posted by: info38 | February 3, 2009 11:00 PM | Report abuse

Daschle's withdrawal was not primarily about his tax oversights. It had to do also with his lucrative linkages with such major health care conglomorates as United Health Care--part of the sinister combine that wrote the flawed Medicare health bill, and which now is enjoying record profits. If Daschle were to have to recuse himself on matters affecting this mega-insurance company--that covers some 20 percent of those who are "lucky" enough to have such insurance-- this would handicap his ability to break out of current health care programs and advocate a major step forward.
I concede that Daschle may very well be "the best man for the job." (He was far superior to any of the current Senate leaders--and he was bold enough to tell Obama to go for the presidency when he did. But his carelessness over the last four years would have hindered his role in the needed major health care reforms.

Posted by: rhd1936 | February 3, 2009 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Too many people analyzing things they don’t have enough information to make an informed conclusion. My taxes are relatively simple compared to these guys. I own part of the family farm back in the Midwest that I rent to my brother. I own two houses; bought the first and lived in it until I was posted over seas; I now rent it out and bought another that I live in except when I rent it out when stationed overseas. Part of my income comes from international organizations when I work overseas. Last year I sent 172 page return to the IRS. My last go around with the IRS they said I owed $20,000 I said I didn’t owe anything. Two years later, and six IRS opinion pointing in 7 directions the IRS agreed that I was actually owed $1,500 (it only cost me $5,000 in legal fees).

Posted by: crete | February 3, 2009 11:27 PM | Report abuse

Tom felt some shame. Tim felt none. Obama should have pushed Tim when he understood the man had no shame.

Posted by: rusty3 | February 4, 2009 12:07 AM | Report abuse

Your right...All I heard was "not again" ...and obviously all the noise from the distance immediately scared Nancy Killefer to do an about face.

Posted by: DD163 | February 4, 2009 1:40 AM | Report abuse

Exactly the thought I was having. It says a lot about the NYT's influence. They told him to go. He went. But on the substance I think it was the right thing to do. I mean, he botched his taxes, and was basking in corporate cash before he even left the Senate. He was too much trouble, and health care is too important for unnecessary distractions.

http://postpartisannews.com/

Posted by: knapp71 | February 4, 2009 2:22 AM | Report abuse

Exactly the thought I was having. It says a lot about the NYT's influence. They told him to go. He went. But on the substance I think it was the right thing to do. I mean, he botched his taxes, and was basking in corporate cash before he even left the Senate. He was too much trouble, and health care is too important for distractions
The Post Partisan

Posted by: knapp71 | February 4, 2009 2:24 AM | Report abuse

Exactly the thought I was having. It says a lot about the NYT's influence. They told him to go. He went. But on the substance I think it was the right thing to do. I mean, he botched his taxes, and was basking in corporate cash before he even left the Senate. He was too much trouble, and health care is too important for distractions

Posted by: knapp71 | February 4, 2009 2:24 AM | Report abuse

I agree; he should have read the Post. I've noticed the difference. I look forward to seeing the comments etc. here at the Washington Post. The NY Times has lost something and I think it could be described as an awareness of who reads it.

Posted by: dmyers412 | February 4, 2009 3:52 AM | Report abuse

Kinsley is right: Daschle had to go because he was the number two tax cheat. Geithner deserved to go too because the public's perception is that the head of the Treasury should be able to file--or pay someone to file for you--taxes regardless of what kind of problems he encountered with his TurboTax software. He stays because the economy scares everyone and apparently this guy can walk on water.
But the whole matter stinks anyway. As a Democrat, I find these tax problems hugely disappointing: this was supposed to be a new era of clean and transparent government. Instead, we have lost one very capable nominee simply because he didn't make the time (or worse, care enough) to find out what were the tax implications of having a limo and driver provided for you by an employer.
It's sad his otherwise distinguished career as a public servant had to end this way.

Posted by: dzukijason | February 4, 2009 6:16 AM | Report abuse

I personally believe that all members of Congress, including senior staff, should be required to publicly release their IRS income tax forms on a yearly basis. Furthermore, all former members of Congress should be required to release their income taxes for up to 5 years after they leave Congress. That way, their constituents and the general public can know who really owns these folks and what the going rate is for one's influence and conscience.

Posted by: cymric | February 4, 2009 6:38 AM | Report abuse

How Dare You???

Pinapple on pizza is amazingly delicious!

However, it has to be ordered with PEPPERONI and not HAM. Preferably a spicier pepperoni. Also drain the pineapple and serve it separately to be topped on the pizza just before devouring.

Posted by: tommoran1 | February 4, 2009 7:18 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of tax cheats, we're still waiting for Rangel to step down.

Posted by: Peejay | February 4, 2009 7:51 AM | Report abuse

No Daschle didn't get confirmed because the Democratic Party needs to go to the Land of Oz and get a spine.

Posted by: JDeter | February 4, 2009 8:19 AM | Report abuse

some posts on this page prove Republican's are pigs.

Posted by: JDeter | February 4, 2009 8:20 AM | Report abuse

What happened to you Kinsley? You used to be a reliable progressive. Daschle could not possibly reform health care when he's taken millions from big pharma these past years. This is the type of crony corruption that gives lobbyists more power in Washington than the American people. The fact that the unpaid taxes were on a limo makes it even more disgusting. Like Obama said on the campaign trail "how do you expect to fix something by doing the same old things?" Now Obama has to walk the walk, otherwise he destroys his own brand. The New York Times had it exactly right.

Posted by: dhxx | February 4, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Kinsley is right about the second time around. As Lady Bracknell observed in "The Importance of Being Earnest," losing one parent is understandable; losing two begins to look like carelessness. Or something to that effect.

Posted by: coy66ote | February 4, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

JDeter: "some posts on this page prove Republican's are pigs."

What comments are you reading? Sounds to me like you're the kind of person who doesn't need proof for your preconceived notions.

Posted by: Peejay | February 4, 2009 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Kinsley and other journalists needs to check their egos at the door. What really needed to be read were the comment boxes like this one under various articles including the WaPo. 1300 posts were listed under one article here most of them bad. No, this was not some erudite folk at the New York Times suggesting he go; it was the pollsters noting those 1300 negative posts, and I speculated similar quantities of emails to Congressman and Senators and newspapers everywhere. This was probaby the closest to a direct popular vote on a cabinet member as their has ever been.

Posted by: jhtlag1 | February 4, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

It's very simple.

Geithner's like Werner Von Braun. In the fifties, we needed a great rocket man so despite Von's past 'indiscretions' we got him. Folks think Geithner is, for some reason, indispensible.

Daschle? There are many Daschles. Why should some other Senator take a bullet for Daschle.

Posted by: tslats | February 4, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Kinsley finds similarities between Geithner and Daschle which are not there. Obama came out strongly against the revolving door and Daschle turns out to have been among the worst offenders, in a way which directly affects his proposed job.

Few people knew what Daschle had been up to because this stuff is not considered important by the media. Daschle was a lobbyist? Who could have known?

Posted by: skeptonomist | February 4, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

The WaPo editorialists got it right - from the point of view of the Washington establishment, their true constituency.

Posted by: skeptonomist | February 4, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Kinsley, you missed the point. Please read Eugene Robinson's post directly below yours. Mr. Robinson hits the nail on the head. The official reason for Daschle withdrawing may have been his tax problems, just like Al Capone was nailed on a tax matter. However, Mr. Daschle's private-sector career was emblematic of the K-Street millionaire's club that is so totally divorced from the world that most of us live in and that has caused so much damage to ordinary citizens.

Posted by: n_mcguire | February 4, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Uh, Dear Mr. Kinsley -- on what planet are you living? Mr. Daschle was not just criticized because he didn't pay taxes, that was only part of it (as opposed to Geithner, whom I agree should not have gotten his post) but for all the monies he made that included the very agencies he would have been legislating for or against. Here is a just a sample: http://www.thenation.com/blogs/edcut/404060/obama_let_daschle_go?rel=sidebox

It's okay to get on your high horse, soap box, etc., but do your homework first. Without it, you look just plain silly at the least, and ignorant at the most.

Posted by: lrb100 | February 4, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Geithner in the cabinet is the perpetual pizza stain on Obama's tie. TM must go.

Posted by: dm1980 | February 4, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Can;t we still get rid of Geithner. Lots of people are losing their jobs. I didn't want him as Treasury Secretary becasue of the connection w/the IRS. The other reason - he's Paulson's pal. Paulson, the guy that knelt before Nancy Pelosi and, one of the guys that got us in trouble in the first place.

Posted by: ltantonlukas | February 4, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Kinsley's analysis is right on. The country is scared, including the Senate, and it didn't want to make much of Geithner's tax issue because the Treasury Secretary is too much expected to help save the day. Daschle came second and therefore into the enough is enough sentiment. And even for someone who admires Sen. Daschle, as I do, there was an aspect of what we out here in the provinces view as the revolving-door syndrome in Washington. I am sure President Obama will find a most capable HHS Secretary and a substantive way for Sen. Daschle to contribute.

Posted by: abelllaw | February 4, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

"...former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle had five words of explanation: 'I read the New York Times.'”

Mr. Kinsley,

When you're going to highlight something with a link to another source, it's a good idea to make sure what you're highlighting is accurate.

Please count the number of words: "I read the New York Times."

Posted by: kjohnson3 | February 4, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Geithner will steer money to some big banks on which pivotal hedge investors are placing big bets, so he got the thumbs up. Furthermore, he will be in a position to instruct the IRS to wink and nod at "oversights" by other folks in similar "noncompliance."

Daschle would be in charge of mere billions, few of which could be leveraged into any offshore fortune, so he got the axe.

Posted by: jkoch2 | February 4, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Yonkers, New York
04 January 2009

No, Michael Kinsley, it cannot be true that the New York Times is more influential than the Washington Post, simply because Tom Daschle said he read the Times, read that editorial asking him to "Go, Sir!" and Mr. Daschle posthaste told President O that he was withdrawing from consideration as Secretary of Health and Human Services.

In my considered opinion, both the Post and the Times are influential papers, in fact two of the most influential in the United States.

In my published comment on that New York Times editorial, I suggested that Mr.Daschle should withdraw--if he had any sense of decency.

I have to compliment Mr. Daschle for withdrawing quickly. The reasonable conclusion I draw from his withdrawal is that he has a strong sense of decency and does not want to cause President O any further embarrassment.

Mariano Patalinjug
MarPatalinjug@aol.com

Posted by: MPatalinjug | February 4, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Don't be daft. Daschle's true sin is that he is the former Democratic Senate Minority leader.

Geithner is not only an independent, he is the former head of the NY Fed. The difference is obvious to anyone with at least half a brain, which, generally excludes most of you reporters at the WP.

Posted by: dubya19391 | February 4, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Hate to be picky, but “I read the New York Times” is six words, not five.

Posted by: washpost100 | February 4, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

I mean gee next you will inform us of breaking news that the recent SEC chairperson appointee was an enforcer at the SEC who was made aware of Bernie Madoff long ago but couldn't do anything about it because the SEC only regulates brokerages not investment-firms. She couldn't have tipped-off the FBI about Madoff all that time. You aren't getting how tight these guys are, even Obama is clearly under their leash.

Posted by: dubya19391 | February 4, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I'm not really concerned about Geithner's tax woes. I'm far more concerned by the fact that, in his previous role with the Fed, he played a big part in creating our financial mess in the first place. The Fed's cheap money policy was a huge mistake, and now Geithner is in a position to compound that mistake. Pretty soon few of us will need to worry about paying income taxes, because we won't have any income.

Posted by: TomJ2 | February 4, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

First of all ABSOLUTELY THE LYING TAX CHEAT GEITHNER MUST GO-HE SHOULD DO THE HONORABLE THING AND RESIGN-BUT OBAMA, TO BE FAIR, OUGHT TO ASK FOR HIS RESIGNATION-IT IS UN-FREAKING-CONSCIONABLE THAT THIS LIAR IS HEAD OF THE IRS-

SECOND-I AGREE WITH YOU KINSLEY-AND HAVE SAID IT HERE THAT GEITHNER'S OMISSIONS WERE FAR MORE EGREGIOUS-IT'S PRETTY D AMN CLEAR THAT GEITHNER WAS LYING-WHICH MAKES HIS CONFIRMATION SO TROUBLING.

BUT THE REASON I THINK GEITHNER GOT CONFIRMED? LUCK. HE WAS FIRST, AND SO CONGRESS WAS CAUTIOUS, WANTING TO GIVE OBAMA ON HIS HONEYMOON A BIT OF A BREAK. IF SAY, OBAMA'S CEO PICK HAD WITHDRAWN FIRST, AND GEITHNER HAD FOLLOWED DASCHLE OR THE CEO PICK IN LINE FOR CONFIRMATION-HE WOULD HAVE BEEN (PROPERLY) FORCED TO WITHDRAW-THE PUBLIC WAS BEGINNING TO SEE THE PATTERN-AND THEY DIDN'T LIKE IT-GEITHNER SLIPPED BY AS THE FIRST ONE-BUT THAT DOESNT MEAN HE SHOULD STAY-GEITHNER HAS ZERO, ZILCH, NADA CREDIBILITY-ON ANY FINANCIAL MATTER, AFTER BLAMING HIS TAX TROUBLES ON TURBO-TAX FOR GOD'S SAKE! I MEAN, MOST OF US USE CPAs IF WE SUSPECT WE HAVE COMPLICATED FILINGS-WHICH LEADS ME TO BELIEVE GEITHNER WAS MANIPULATING THE SYSTEM-JUST LIKE HE LIKELY DID IN OVERSEEING WALL STREET-WHAT OTHER SKELETONS DOES GEITHNER HAVE IN HIS CLOSET? METHINKS THE MEDIA OUGHT TO DO A FAR BETTER JOB THAN IT HAS IN FERRETING OUT ETHICAL/CONFLICT OF INTEREST ISSUES WITH THESE CABINET PICKS THAN THEY HAVE DONE!

Posted by: arrabbiato | February 4, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Kinsley, you got this one wrong. Another writer in today's paper observes that the "media" were reflecting senatorial approval, as opposed to PUBLIC disapproval. Granted the PUBLIC doesn't count in the eyes of the Post, nor, Times. That's why they promote the reshaping of the public via takeover by ILLEGAL FOREIGNERS. Their formula: buy illegal votes via givaway entitlements paid by the LEGAL PUBLIC UNWASHED, who do pay taxes. Don't know who the coming American Robespierre will be, but, he WILL be. Can't wait.

Posted by: craigslsst | February 4, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Kinsley is incorrect that Geithner's tax situation was the "same" as Daschle's. Daschle's error was very serious while Geithner's is a common error. Most public employees and most employees of international organizations do not pay FICA taxes because they are covered by separate pension plans and they DO NOT pay these taxes. What is quite unusual is that the international organization did not pay the taxes or tell the W-2 holder that they needed to pay the taxes. Most tax preparers would have prepared the tax returns just the way Geithner did. No FICA taxes on the W-2; quite understandable. Look no further.

Posted by: myerscpa | February 4, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Michael:
I saw you last night on PBS talking about Parkinson's disease.
Bless your heart.
Keep up the good work here.
==
On Daschle's withdrawal:
You hit a good strong 2-base hit, comparing Daschle and Geithner as not paying taxes, and that Daschle came second.
It's much more than that.
It's WHAT he didn't pay taxes on, and why he got the perks.
He too closely associated himself with a number of healthcare companies, who would be regulated by HHS.
The public, viewing this massive financial gravy-train wreck claimed by the Bush administration as "unforeseen", is blaming the 30-year drive from Reagan forward to deregulate the financial markets and they are FURIOUS.
Daschle, found to be a "limosine liberal" with a chauffeur to boot (as he was characterized by a TV journalist), got caught in this environment.
The amount of tax he didn't pay was bad enough, but it was how and why he missed the boat on the tax situation that aroused the mistrust of the public.
It just made Daschle appear to be in bed with the very companies whose ox he may need to gore, when reform of healthcare rolls around to consideration.
Granted Daschle knows much more about the industry and the problems it's having which contribute to the financial problems, thei picture these perks provoke makes Daschle appear to be too susceptible to pressure from the companies to inspire public trust.
That's why Daschle's support collapsed and why he withdrew.
It's sad, but it's a sign of the brewing rage abroad in the country, stymied by the credit crunch, threatened with layoffs, which has no patience with the situation anymore.
Obama set a high bar and the public applauds him for it.
They want him to stick to his guns.
And he is.
That apology this morning called forth the spirit of Harry Truman: the buck stops in the Oval Office and Obama is willing to shoulder the burden, for which we are very proud of him.
It's refreshing to hear Obama say:
"I screwed up with this one."
Sure beats his predecessor by a country mile.

Posted by: Judy-in-TX | February 4, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Michael: I don't necessarily disagree with your column, but I will say that the IRS rules about when you must declare services received are no more murky than IMF employees pay. That's not a compelling distinction. They're both rather simple, and people in such positions should be more than aware of them.

Posted by: superchuck500 | February 4, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Pineapples on a ham pizza are *very* good! That is often referred to as a Hawaiian, and you can get it at most pizza chains. Ledo's in Arlington is quite tasty.

Perhaps Mr. Daschle can have one there whilst ruminating upon how Geithner got away with it.

Posted by: JeffRandom | February 4, 2009 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Wow that certainly is murky, having a personnel servant to drive you around in a free car for a few years.

Posted by: obblehit | February 4, 2009 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Geithner got a pass from the old boys club because the public had not yet found its voice. By the time Daschle's tax malfeasance came to light, public outrage had escalated so much that he had no choice but to go. Geithner might yet have his day in the stock.


Posted by: farhorizons | February 4, 2009 9:02 PM | Report abuse

FREE AMERICA

REVOLUTIONARY (DIRECT) DEMOCRACY

Posted by: thc1138 | February 4, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Geithner got off because captains of finance play by a separate, privileged set of rules. That was already obvious when the bankers got their bailout cash, no questions asked, no mention made of corporate jet travel to D.C., while the automaker bigwigs got raked over the coals and a chintzy payout in the end.
Daschle deserved to be dropped, as he obviously took after-the-fact bribes and peddled influence, but so did Geithner, who is among those moneymen whose failures helped bring this fiasco on to begin with.

Posted by: troutcor | February 4, 2009 10:32 PM | Report abuse

What I find interesting is that many of the main people who supported Obama over Hillary Clinton are dropping like flies. Bill Richardson, Caroline Kennedy, John Edwards and Tom Daschle have all gone down. Chris Matthews is also not running for the Senate because too many Hillary supporters won't vote for him in Pennsylvania. Leon Panetta is next. If the Clintons made a list of those who crossed them, these folks would be on it. I wonder if it's coincidence or not. Either way, it's sure fun to see these people get what they deserve.

Posted by: BettyM47 | February 4, 2009 11:06 PM | Report abuse

I am no fan of Kinsley but he was right on the mark when he said the main reason that Geithner survived while Daschle didn’t is that Daschle came second.

Posted by: 12oreo | February 5, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Kinsley's analysis is shallow. The primary reason Geithner got a pass on the tax issue is that the Obama team believes this daunting financial crisis requires the sharpest minds to find a solution. Geithner was the president of the New York Fed and well-experienced in trying to resolve several prior financial crisis’s, including LTCM. Over and over, it has been said that Senators were willing to overlook Geithner's tax problem because they believed he had the skill set to respond to the crisis.
It is also true that tax problem fatigue has set in on Capitol Hill. Geithner was the first nominee with this issue, so there was more patience. But Daschle was the 3rd nominee with this problem, at which point the Obama team had gone to the well too many times.
The other issue that, surprisingly, Kinsley failed to address is Daschle’s work at the law firm of Alston & Bird advocating and consulting for health care entities that would be affected by any health care reform legislation. http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1876550,00.html?imw=Y After Obama's endless preaching on the campaign trail about a new way of doing business in Washington, in which lobbyists and special interests are not welcome, Daschle’s nomination raised eyebrows: someone who received millions working for a law firm advocating on behalf of the health care industry would be presiding over attempts to reform health insurance. This is an egregious conflict of interest. When you also consider the tax issue, it's easy to understand why Daschle’s nomination failed, especially because the tax issue arose because Daschle received a free chauffeured limousine, not a popular image in light of the current crisis.

Posted by: Kennyb900 | February 5, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

It was my understanding that Geithner under reported income or treated some income as non taxable. Daschle amended his charitable contributions, in other words he said he gave money to a non profit (church) but actually did not. There is definitely a difference in perception of these 2 different kinds of "mistakes." One is a sin of omission, another commission. You may forget that you received income, but you cannot forget that you didn't give money to charity.

Posted by: TheIggynoonewants | February 5, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Tim Geitner is a common tax cheater, but being a tax cheat won't imperil his message on the economy.

I hate to say it, but as John Q. Public, I will never buy National Health Care from a guy whose activities as a lobbyist's lobbyist were so important, he needed a driver and limo to help him be more efficient at them.

No question, Canada's health care delivery is less desirable than the system the insured in this country have. Yes, I know that is the problem, but to provide access to all, everyone is going to get something similar to Canada's underfunded system. Everyone except the prominent like Tom Daschle.

Just a mental image of Tom in his limo imperiled the whole program. That image will be in my mind a long time.

Posted by: MaryOK | February 7, 2009 9:32 PM | Report abuse

BettyM47:

I supported Hillary over Obama and I was appalled by the people who supported him over her, especially given their shared history. I suspect these people knew Hillary well enough to know she wasn't going to give them a job. Maybe Obama would because he didn't know them as well.

Richardson in particular is intriguing. Obama probably never wanted him, but had to give him something. Richardson was probably told if his problem did not clear up by 2009, he needed to withdraw. Obama seemed to owe more to Daschle, so he had it let the appointment process play out, a true disaster.

Posted by: MaryOK | February 7, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

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