Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Daschle Fiasco Finally Ends

Today was not a good day for the Obama White House. Two candidates for senior cabinet positions resigning. But while much of the coverage has claimed the two resigned for "tax reasons", like this one, that's not quite true in Daschle's case. No one thought Daschle's tax problems were a dealbreaker - what was was that his appointment flew in the face of Obama's pledge to not hire any lobbyists.

As Time magazine reports:
According to the White House, the important thing is that Tom Daschle is not technically a lobbyist. "If you're not registered to lobby, you can't be a lobbyist," explains White House spokesman Robert Gibbs. And Daschle, the former Senate Democratic leader who is up for the top health post in the Obama Cabinet, never filled out the paperwork to register.

Of course that's baloney, since Daschle effectively acted as a lobbyist. From the Time article:
Daschle, for instance, was a high-paid "policy adviser" at Alston & Bird, a lobbying firm with dozens of brand-name pharmaceutical and health-services clients. "Senator Daschle focuses his services on advising the firm's clients on issues related to all aspects of public policy," boasts the firm's website. One of Alston's clients, EduCap, a nonprofit student-loan company that spent six figures lobbying to change federal loan laws, took Daschle on two cushy overseas trips, one to the Bahamas for a board meeting and another to the Middle East to meet with foreign leaders.

What's particularly disturbing about this, if you were swept by the Obama hype of change, is that Obama supported Daschle despite these facts, and trying to spin the unofficial lobbyist status. Turns out he's just another politician - who would have thought?

Adding insult to injury is that the WH now argues that this will be the cleanest administration to date. That's a bit like arguing that a thief who didn't mug his victim because a cop showed up isn't a thief after all!

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