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When Mistakes Are Made


What does a president do after he makes a mistake? The answer to that question is hugely telling, both psychologically and politically.

President Obama, apparently, has a dramatically different approach than his immediate predecessor.

We drill into our children -- with stories about young presidents, no less -- that admitting mistakes is a fundamental hallmark of honesty. But it's not really something we've grown to expect of our leaders.

All the way to the bitter end of his presidency, George Bush refused to acknowledge any errors in judgment beyond a few public-relations gaffes. The few substantive mistakes he admitted -- such as taking the country to war on incorrect intelligence -- he blamed on others.

The Bush approach, generally credited to Karl Rove, was never to apologize for anything -- and instead to simply bluster on through. The idea, presumably, was that admitting mistakes makes a president look weak. And Rove in particular was adamant about never giving critics, political opponents or the press the satisfaction of seeing the president on the defensive.

On a case-by-case basis, this strategy mostly worked, and negative stories blew over more quickly than they might have otherwise. But over time, Bush's detachment from reality seriously eroded his credibility.

Obama last night -- on five networks, no less -- announced to the world that he had screwed up when it came to backing two nominees who had failed to properly pay their taxes. Would-be health czar Thomas A. Daschle and would-be government-spending watchdog Nancy Killefer both stepped aside yesterday in the face of growing concern over Obama's apparent retreat from his pledge to bring about a "new era of responsibility."

"I'm here on television, saying I screwed up," Obama told NBC's Brian Williams (above). "And that's part of the era of responsibility. It's not never making mistakes; it's owning up to them and trying to make sure you never repeat them and that's what we intend to do."

And rather than duck the issue, Obama acknowledged precisely what was so disturbing about what he had done. "I've got to own up to my mistake which is that, ultimately, it's important for this administration to send a message that there aren't two sets of rules -- you know, one for prominent people and one for ordinary folks who have to pay their taxes."

But taking the high road is not always the path to success in Washington. And the practical test of Obama's approach versus Bush's will come as we see the response in the coming days, first inside the Beltway, and then outside.

Can a politician get credit in this day and age for admitting a mistake? Or is it instead first blood for a rapacious political and media culture?

From Obama's interview with ABC News's Charlie Gibson:

Gibson: "Mr. President, has this been an embarrassing day for the administration?"

Obama: "Well, I think it has. I mean, I think that any time one of your nominees pulls out, that's an issue. And, you know, as I've said publicly, you know, ultimately, I take responsibility for the situation that we're in. But what I also think is important is to stay focused on the overarching theme of this administration, which is making sure that we get this economy back on track, that we provide health care for people who are in desperate need of it....

"We're going to have some glitches, and I understand that that's what people are going to focus on. And I'm focused on it because I don't want glitches. We can't afford glitches because, right now, what I should be spending time talking to you about is how we're going to put three to four million people back to work. And so this is a self-induced injury that I'm angry about, and we're going to make sure we get it fixed."

As CBS's Katie Couric pointed out (here's the transcript and video of her interview) Obama had hoped to focus on his economic stimulus package in his barrage of interviews.

But as Obama acknowledged: "Well, this is the problem when you make these self-inflicted wounds, you end up being distracted really from the people's business."

Fox News's Chris Wallace (transcript and video) grilled Obama on a larger issue: his less than perfect adherence to his pledge not to bring lobbyists into his administration.

Wallace: "On your first day in office, you signed an executive order on lobbyists...that you said marked a, quote, 'clean break' with business as usual. And yet, in less than two weeks, you have signed waivers to allow the hiring of lobbyists to be deputy secretary at the Pentagon, deputy secretary at HHS, and chief of staff at the treasury. Is that a clean break?"

Obama: "Well, that's three out of hundreds of appointments that we've made."

Wallace: "Three of the top jobs. Three really important jobs."

Obama: "But let me say this, Chris. We disclosed these ahead of time. We set a very high bar. And everybody acknowledges that we have the toughest standards, not only of people who have lobbied previously, and the restrictions on them working in this White House, but also going forward.

"And those rules will still apply, even for Mr. Lynn, who had some unique qualifications that I felt was important to America's national security. Even he is going to have to not be engaged in lobbying for two years -- or for the duration of my administration.

"And so, look, is every approach that we're taking here going to be perfect? No. Have we set a very high bar, higher than any president who's ever been in this office? And are we generally meeting that very high standard? I think the answer is absolutely yes."

Here's the transcript and video of Obama's interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper.

Anne E. Kornblut and Michael D. Shear write in The Washington Post: "Obama officials had sought a seamless transition, nominating most of his Cabinet at record pace and taking office ready to implement a raft of new policies. His reversal yesterday suggested that speed may have come at a cost, and that Obama, despite the overwhelming popularity he had upon taking office and the major challenges facing the nation, will not be spared from the same kind of scrutiny his predecessors have faced.

"In jettisoning one of his closest and earliest political allies, the president appeared eager to make a course correction after days of criticism that his administration was not abiding by its own stated ethical standards and questions about his ability to bring change to the capital....

"Daschle's withdrawal came as a jolt to the administration, serving as a rebuke to Obama officials who had privately and publicly brushed aside the idea that personal tax issues would reach a boiling point. Senior officials had insisted that the public was too concerned with the ongoing economic collapse to fixate on the foibles of the people being marshaled to try to set the nation back on course....

"The abrupt move stands to potentially dent the reputation for steadiness and managerial prowess that the 47-year-old president had cultivated over a smoothly run campaign and a transition to power that boasted of a swift vetting and nomination of top aides."

Jeff Zeleny writes in the New York Times: "Mr. Daschle, a closer confidant to Mr. Obama than any other cabinet nominee, had offered to step down over the weekend, but officials close to both men said Mr. Obama had urged him to fight for confirmation.

"Mr. Daschle went to Capitol Hill on Monday to keep his confirmation on track, but by Tuesday morning, with the pressure showing no signs of easing, he told the president that he believed he had become a distraction and too wounded to be effective...

"The developments distracted attention from Mr. Obama’s effort to push his economic stimulus plan through the Senate and complicated the initiative that Mr. Daschle was to have led, his plan for overhauling the health care system."

Peter Wallsten writes in the Los Angeles Times: "In only his second week in office, Barack Obama is punching the restart button on his presidency.

"On Tuesday, Day 14 of a tenure that began with high hopes and soaring promises of bringing a new competence to Washington, Obama essentially admitted that he had lost ground in confronting his biggest challenge -- fixing the country's crippled economy -- due to the 'self-inflicted injury' of naming appointees who had failed to pay their taxes....

"The tax problems were damaging Obama's arguments in the stimulus debate -- and were potentially damaging to his ability to push for other difficult legislation, including the healthcare reforms that Daschle was to shepherd through Congress. The White House was left open to attacks such as the one from a top GOP leader, Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, who said over the weekend that it was no wonder Democrats push for higher taxes 'because, you know what, they don't pay them.'

"The events are not a defeat for Obama and his legislative priorities, but they do mark a significant reversal of fortune."

Mimi Hall, Fredreka Schouten and John Fritze write in USA Today: "It was a disquieting day for a president who came into office with soaring approval ratings and a promise to have the most ethical administration in history....

"In Congress and on cable talk shows Tuesday, questions about the new administration dominated the day. Among them: Should Obama's self-described mistakes be attributed to the usual growing pains of a new White House, or do they underscore a fundamental weakness that could have ramifications for future appointments and legislation at a critical time?"

The Associated Press's Calvin Woodward notes all the mea culpas on the evening news and writes: "The White House approaches each day with talking points but none like this one....

"The audacity of acknowledging — even emphasizing — poor judgment came in marked contrast to his predecessor. George W. Bush pronounced himself stumped when asked, midway through his presidency, to name mistakes he'd made."

Lynn Sweet blogs for the Chicago Sun-Times: "The Daschle episode provided another vivid demonstration of the Obama MO: Faced with a fixable, damaging crisis, his advisers prefer to cut their losses, take the PR hit and try to move ahead."

Josh Gerstein and Jonathan Martin write for Politico: "George W. Bush was reluctant to admit any mistakes in eight years.

"It took Barack Obama just 14 days. And once he started Tuesday, he didn’t stop....

"Tax problems come and go in Washington, just like dinged-up nominees. But Obama seemed to sense Tuesday that Daschle was different, much more serious — a true threat to Brand Obama that opened him up to charges of hypocrisy..

"And he didn’t even try to talk anyone out of the conventional wisdom — that Daschle and his free limo rides were like the living repudiation of everything Obama campaigned on for two years.

"Instead, he tried to get one message across with the force of his contrite words — that he really did mean what he said when he ran for president about cleaning up the capital."

By Dan Froomkin  |  February 4, 2009; 2:16 PM ET
Categories:  Ethics , Financial Crisis  
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Comments

Obama apologized 1 day after he said he fully supported Daschle. Why the sudden change of heart? Why didn't Obama ask Daschle to step down? Why did Daschle have to unilaterally withdraw -- instead of being asked to by the Administration.

This "apology" reeks of connivance. What about Geithner? Didn't he do the same thing? Why wasn't Obama apologizing then?

It was only after the sh*tstorm in the media and declining poll numbers that Obama said he was sorry.

Posted by: winoohno | February 4, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Could it be that Obama is smart enough to recognize that empty words will be enough to placate the partisan hacks in the media?

Notice that Froomkin doesn't comment on the substance of Obama's mistakes and instead on his own obsessive hatred of Bush.

Way to speak truth to power Dan!

Posted by: bobmoses | February 4, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Who cares if he said he screwed up? He had to know that he was nominating crooks. He tried to pass his buddies he owed a lot to by us and he was caught. Saying sorry does not make it right. When you get caught speeding, "I screwed up doesn't work"!

Posted by: trjn30 | February 4, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

They let Dasher withdraw himself in an attempt to salvage the man's dignity. The administration wouldn't just jettison a nominee immediately after a small hiccup, especially someone as important as the HHS secretary after all the promises for universal healthcare. Personally I couldn't care less about his tax snafu, but the media loves a story and a drawn-out confirmation hearing would have been a distraction from the stimulus bill they are trying to get passed. Geithner's taxes would seem to be a bigger issue, given his position in the cabinet but that ship has already sailed and they need to act quickly on the economic deterioration.

Posted by: ozpunk | February 4, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I don't think the mistake was that Obama picked a man who had not fully paid his taxes. The mistake was that he picked a man who had made an obscene amount of money after leaving government presumably from people who would like to access power in furtherance of their private interests once that same man returned to government. We've seen the results of this revolving door and the rich are getting richer at the expense of the rest of us.

Posted by: SarahBB | February 4, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Some of these news anchors (and I use the term advisedly, especially in the case of Chris Wallace) are hyperventilating about these three failed nominees.

DC folk indeed possess short memories.
Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court.
Alberto Gonzales for Attorney general.
Michael Brown to head FEMA.
Lobbyists for polluting multinationals directing EPA.

Any of this ring a bell?

Last, I have more respect for a president who can admit his mistakes, than a previous one who (still) truculently maintains he never made any errors.

Posted by: crix | February 4, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

crix -

OK, so because Bush made mistakes, that means that Obama's mistakes are irrelevant.

What partisan nonsense. How about evaluating Obama on his own merits instead of by how much you hate Bush?

Hating Bush is no excuse to absolve Obama of his responsibilities. I guess all that "speaking truth to power" rhetoric from angry partisan liberals was just that: rhetoric.

Posted by: bobmoses | February 4, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

I agree with you, crix.

People that admit their mistakes are awknowledging that they are not God's gift to America, and I think that's a good thing!

I'd rather have someone make mistakes and fess up to them, and work to change them than have someone continue to make the same mistakes (as well as new ones).

Posted by: lawgirlguru | February 4, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

crix -

Also did the news anchors not "hyperventilate" about the folks that you mention?

You are the one with the short memory.

Posted by: bobmoses | February 4, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

What's happened to this column? It used to be much longer, ending with links to relevant cartoons, then followed by interesting comments? Now, there are just a few dead-enders ambling over from the AEI.

Posted by: DrewKnox | February 4, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Remember Froomkin before he went nuts? He was rabid going after Bush and Cheney. He was absolutely bordering on the deranged. If George Bush sneezed, Froomkin accused him of causing the death of millions of people from the flu. Now, Froomkin loves everything that comes out of the White House. Froomkin is played like a fiddle by David Axelrod - mind melted into spewing propaganda and lies. This would be funny if it wasn't a metaphor for the decline in readership for the WaPo and its credibility.

Posted by: Cornell1984 | February 4, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Did I miss something?

Daschle was a bad choice, right?

And he won't take office, right?

And this mistake is over, right?

And bobmoses is still an idiot, right?

So what's the problem?


Posted by: Attucks | February 4, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

lawgirlguru -

How about getting a guy who doesn't make so many mistakes, regardless of his party affiliation? If you want to attack Bush for incompetence, that's great. Just don't give the next guy a pass because he has a D in front of his name.

Keep speaking "truth to power", hypocrites. All of your mindless yammering over the past eight years is being exposed. You guys son't care about good government at all. You just want to hate people who don't share your narrow views.

Posted by: bobmoses | February 4, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Attucks -

LOL. Yes anyone who isn't a mindless partisan like you is an idiot.

Keep on bleating!! Keep "speaking truth to power" while you are at it. LOL

Posted by: bobmoses | February 4, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Attucks -

Let me spare you the trouble of your typical response:

BobMoses: "Me Froomkin. Me hate Bush"
BobMoses: "Me Froomkin. Me hate Bush"
BobMoses: "Me Froomkin. Me hate Bush"

No need to thank me for sparing you the need to have the most meaningful discussion of which you are capable. Keep on bleating!

Posted by: bobmoses | February 4, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

For the record, while I do think Obama made some mistakes here and broke some campaign promises, that is what politicians do.

None of this alters my belief that Obama will be an effective and ethical President.

Posted by: bobmoses | February 4, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

crix -
Also did the news anchors not "hyperventilate" about the folks that you mention?
You are the one with the short memory.
Posted by: bobmoses | February 4, 2009 3:21 PM

LOL…hey bob, careful what you say about people’s memory.

We all remember your best work.

Me Froomkin, Me Hate Bush.
Me Froomkin, Me Hate Bush.
Me Froomkin, Me Hate Bush.
Me Froomkin, Me Hate Bush.
….

And so on.

Endless repetition. A sign of memory impairment.


Posted by: Attucks | February 4, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

crix -
Also did the news anchors not "hyperventilate" about the folks that you mention?
You are the one with the short memory.
Posted by: bobmoses | February 4, 2009 3:21 PM

LOL…hey bob, careful what you say about people’s memory.

We all remember your best work.

Me Froomkin, Me Hate Bush.
Me Froomkin, Me Hate Bush.
Me Froomkin, Me Hate Bush.
Me Froomkin, Me Hate Bush.
….

And so on.

Endless repetition. A sign of memory impairment.


Posted by: Attucks | February 4, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Attucks -

Let me spare you the trouble of your typical response:

BobMoses: "Me Froomkin. Me hate Bush"
BobMoses: "Me Froomkin. Me hate Bush"
BobMoses: "Me Froomkin. Me hate Bush"

No need to thank me for sparing you the need to have the most meaningful discussion of which you are capable. Keep on bleating!

Posted by: bobmoses | February 4, 2009 3:28 PM


//

LOL...

well shucks, bob...you do remember!!!

Posted by: Attucks | February 4, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Attucks -

Yes your mindless responses are beyond predictable. You are incapable of actually responding to any logical discussion.

You are so right when you say "Endless repetition. A sign of memory impairment." You are a great example.

Keep on bleating!!

Posted by: bobmoses | February 4, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't anyone want to stick to the issue at hand? I am hopeful for this administration but disappointed in their vetting process. Failing to pay taxes, no matter the reason, is illegal and inappropriate. If it was done willfully, then these are not people who should be in control of our government. Others, including CPA's, have said that it is easy to make mistakes; I would guess that I have made some over the years. The mistaken should own up to it and pay the back taxes with penalties as soon as they become aware of the problem. The other major issue is that Daschle's quasi-lobbying should have locked him out of the administration right out of the box. Given that these are normal mistakes that arise from sunshine (and that any of mine would be discovered under the same sunlight), I am ready to forget this nonsense and have Obama et al focus on the immediate problem. If we reject and attack so soon, we will never really know how well this new administration can perform. Onward, Obama, to bigger and better things and, as is likely for humanity, bigger and nastier mistakes.

Posted by: mraymond10 | February 4, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Obama is gutless. He's never had to make any executive decisions in his life. He is way in over his head. I'm afraid for our great nation as this rookie tries to figure out how to be a president. Why is it that Democrats always raise taxes on hard working, productive people... redistribute those taxes to lazy, uneducated people who refuse to work... and, fail to pay their own fair share of taxes. Oh, that's right. They're Democrats.

Posted by: JeffPA1 | February 4, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

we can't count the many errors in judgement that the last prez committed. the repurcussions are still be felt around the world .he is a small little man who never had to account for anything, cause mama and pappy bought him everything, and everything his hot little hands touched, turned to _ _it, especially this country. the differences in the character of these two men are as different as night and day.

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

President Obama's candor deserves recognition and respect. Those of us on the outside need to be aware that Obama's never having been President or exercised responsibilities close to what he is exercising now has consequences. One of them is that bad decisions on nominations are going to be made, and Daschle was one of them.

More serious than a withdrawn nomination (something each of the last three Presidents had as well) are the problems Post columnists like Samuelson and Pearlstein have raised this week, in admirably clear language. The stimulus package being promoted by the administration doesn't make any hard choices as between short-term pump priming and longer-term infrastructure development; it spreads around spending, and tax cuts, to constituencies rather than priorities. Obama's administration is also beginning to look like one with a large number of chiefs -- not just Cabinet secretaries but czars, coordinators and special envoys -- tasked with making policy relative to the number of Indians assigned to implement it. Obama's chiefs are mostly superimposed on the executive branch rather than selected from within it, which eases the task of making policy decisions at the expense of greatly complicating the task of implementing them.

Finally, if "hard choices" mean "unpopular policies," Obama hasn't yet stepped up to the plate at all, not during the campaign and not during the White House. Energy policy and climate change is just one example. You reduce fossil fuel usage and carbon emissions the most by using less energy overall; you reduce energy overall by making it more expensive. Obama's energy program by contrast is all about subsidizing green technologies, creating green, well-paying jobs....in other words, he's mostly counting on Magic Energy Beans. It won't work.

You can't get conservation with cheap gas and electricity, and you can't get more expensive energy without taking the political hit. Will President Obama ever be prepared to do this? We'll see.

Posted by: jbritt3 | February 4, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

bobmoses,

I'm not sure if you agree with me or not... how about posting YOUR thoughts, WITHOUT digging into anyone else's opinion? Geeze....

thanks to all the other posters who keep this an actual discussion without all the hoopla!

Posted by: lawgirlguru | February 4, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

"I am hopeful for this administration but disappointed in their vetting process. Failing to pay taxes, no matter the reason, is illegal and inappropriate."

I really doubt that the vetting process ignored the tax issue. I think the problem is that vetting requires the person being vetted to be honest. It seems like the tax issue was being hidden from Obama.

On the other hand, Daschle could hide what he has been doing for a living for four years. I think Obama was trying to get off on a technicality in that Daschle wasn't officially a lobbyist and therefore exempt from the rules. He might have actually gotten away with it if not for the tax problems. The question then came up, how in the world do you even get that kind of money where you start owing such a large amount in taxes?

Posted by: DDAWD | February 4, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

"The few substantive mistakes he admitted -- such as taking the country to war on incorrect intelligence -- he blamed on others."

Yeah, the sign on Bush's desk read, "The buck takes a U-turn here."

Posted by: kjohnson3 | February 4, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

I wondered what Froomkin was going to do with himself when he didn't have Bush to complain about nonstop anymore. And now I have my answer: suck up to Obama nonstop!

Posted by: wapo9 | February 4, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

"But taking the high road is not always the path to success in Washington. And the practical test of Obama's approach versus Bush's will come as we see the response in the coming days, first inside the Beltway, and then outside....Can a politician get credit in this day and age for admitting a mistake?"

Obama's whole value system refutes the notion that one should be honest for what it can get you.

He's basically being honest because he made a mistake. He's acknowledging the mistake, taking the blame, and vowing to do better. How is that not a lesson to teach your children?

In a person of real integrity -- as I believe Obama is -- these actions are taken with humility and without regard for approval ratings.

Posted by: kjohnson3 | February 4, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

It is indeed refreshing to see someone take responsibility for mistakes, something Shrub never did or will. It is called integrity, something Shrub does not possess.

Posted by: COLEBRACKETT | February 4, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Even if Obama is only being responsive to public opinion, that's a hell of a lot better than BushCheney who gloried in defying public opinion. Even a apology of convenience clearly said sounds good after the last 8 years. A president who isn't secure enough to say "I screwed up" is a problem child.

Posted by: newageblues | February 4, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

How refreshing! People who can admit a mistake, but still push forward to try to succeed at the nation's business. So different from the previous administration, which lied about what was they were up to and lied about the results.

What really matters about how "strong" or "weak" a president is perceived in the eyes of some in the media and opposition?

There's a reality to presidential power, it's not all perception and persuasion. Mr. Obama has earned the benefit of doubt from the American people. Mr. Bush had that too, but squandered it being so wrong so often.

Mr. Obama retains both formal power of the office, and the soft power of intigent persuasion. That 3 of more than 100 people are not quite consistent with very high standards of the Obama Administration is SO MUCH BETTER than the track record of Mr. Bush, who appointed incompetent religious and political ideologues with no qualifications what so ever

Posted by: Mill_in_Mn | February 4, 2009 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Still waiting for that paragon of virtue, NBC News, to recant their declaration and admit their mistakes. You remember Brian Williams in his most ostentatious tone: "NBC News is now prepared to declare that Iraq is in a state of all out civil war".

Well, Brian?

Posted by: magellan1 | February 4, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

The new president is certainly keeping his word with voters. He promised new ways of doing things, and coming up with a crony scandal -- or a few crony scandals -- less than three weeks after his inauguration is probably a record achievement. It normally takes a few years for such scandals to crop up.

Posted by: kunino | February 4, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Yes, it's an excellent thing that the president owned up to screwing up. It would have been an even better thing if he had been sincere about wanting change.

Posted by: nicekid | February 4, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

I don't much care about Daschle. He was a chiselling influence-peddlar when out of a govt job, but I believe he would have made an honest stab at health reform.

I'm hopping mad, however, that someone from the missile defense lobby has wormed their way into the Obama Administration. That is a truly worrying sign.

There is no lower form of life than the missile defense scam artists.

Posted by: Bud0 | February 4, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

We have endured 8 YEARS (16 if your from Texas!) of unapologetic hubris, poor governance and disregard of the rule of law. And yet here we are analyzing and critiquing Obama when he does what so many of us ached to hear Bush do... admit wrong-doing. Good thing that we are vigilant and speaking truth to power, but come on, lets not be so forgetful. This is a real change from what we've endured!

Posted by: drum_sing | February 4, 2009 7:40 PM | Report abuse

The notion that Obama knew Daschle had problems with his tax returns is just stupid. Obama called for the audit to be done as part of the vetting for all his new officials. He surely did not know the results until it was complete. When it was complete he considered that paying the back taxes was sufficient. However, public opinion said otherwise, and Obama acknowledged that he should have held the bar higher.

I hope all this concentration on the difficulties of complying with the tax code will result in simplification of the tax code!

Posted by: fletc3her | February 4, 2009 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Obama badly needs a Huey Long...someone who might prod him a little farther to the Left than he's tacking now...Long forced FDR to become bolder and provide direct aid to individuals who badly needed it...everyone is focused on the first 100 Days of the first New Deal but the Second New Deal of 1935 arguably changed the country much more, and it only happened so FDR could neutralize Long...a Share-Our-Wealth Club might resonate about now...strange as it sounds, Obama needs a rival, someone willing to take on the super-rich who've gotten away with murder...any Dems up to the task? Puuuleeeze.

Posted by: irbyrl | February 4, 2009 9:21 PM | Report abuse

As an ardent Obama supporter and campaigner, I am more than a little disappointed by this whole issue and the administration's response to it. Those who say the Daschle withdrawal occurred only because of the PR storm are likely correct. Especially the criticism from women's groups on why the woman for the less important position with the least offense of the 3 was the only one walking the plank. Fair question and clear double standard. All 3 clearly seem to be knowing tax cheats. Geithner is still in his post and was the most glaring of the 3 in his misdeeds, as we know that his employer carefully spelled out his tax liabilities for him and even gave him extra $ to pay those taxes. Obama's mea culpa is a good start and an improvement over his predecessor, but Geithner needs to go too. He should have been the first overboard.

Also have never seen any coherent explanation why the #2 guy at Pentagon has such a unique background that he needed an exemption.

Not sure why Republicans on here are so upset. It is we Dems who should be fuming. We have a Bush carryover as #1 at Pentagon and a corporate lobbyist hack as #2 and Bush's point guy on first phase of bailout as our Treasury Secretary. You guys haven't made out badly at all here.

Posted by: allentown1 | February 4, 2009 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Republicans gall is breathtaking.

They complain about Tom Dashle's honest mistake, after Bush/Cheney ran the country like couple of Mafia Dons.

Bush/Cheney had the most corrupt administration in history.

Republicans have got a lot of nerve to lecture anyone about ethics.

Posted by: svreader | February 4, 2009 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Bush's approach was deny, blame others, and lie if necessary. The lazy media let him get away with it. Scott McClellan has it right.

Posted by: cdierd1944 | February 4, 2009 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Dan "swallows 7 kinds of cock" Froomkin finally in a blog format... Where he belongs.

Posted by: ImpeachObama | February 4, 2009 10:41 PM | Report abuse

Froom is a glassy eyed Obama supporter...Ob is good...Ob is good...he will lead us to the promised land.

For fun (and also not to waste my time reading Frooms pieces)I just read the title on frooms pieces and try to guess how Froom will oooo and ahhhh
about Obama and how Froom will drag out dead horse Bush and beat it again.

Posted by: snapplecat07 | February 4, 2009 11:05 PM | Report abuse

"Republicans have got a lot of nerve to lecture anyone about ethics."

What's beyond me is why anyone in power listens to them. Incredibly, bobmoses represents Republican LEADERSHIP. It's one thing for crazy wingnuts to spout nonsense like "why doesn't anyone respond to my logical viewpoints" on a message board, but it's quite another when the wingnuts are running a national party.

Frankly Obama is wasting his time reaching out to the GOP. They're unhinged, rabid obstructionists filled with too much misinformed rage to recognize that the "permanent campaign" needs to be suspended for a few seconds so we can all deal with the greater issues at hand. I don't believe for one second that Obama is reaching out this time so he can point to their obstructionism when he ignores them next time. I think he naively believes they will come around, as if years of Rush "I hope Obama fails" Limbaugh's rhetoric can be erased by being a nice guy. He's trying to negotiate with leaders that tolerated shouts of "kill him!" from their supporters during the election.

Bush's tax cuts didn't even pay for themselves. They failed. So now we're trying a different route. And all the GOP can come up with is more tax cuts. They demonize any proposition they dislike as "socialism" to make sure healthy debate never occurs. And yet we continue to reward this behavior by giving them a microphone under the absurd notion that they deserve equal say. We had 6 straight years of solid GOP control of DC, and they once again drove us into a financial ditch. Now we actually capitulate to some of their ideas to get us back out of the ditch. Gotta love conventional wisdom.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | February 5, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Well, so far so good Mr. Froomkin.
Please do not deviate from BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome) line, no matter what kind of pills medics offer you.
We enjoy it very much. Keep going.

Posted by: wizclique | February 9, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

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