Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Tom Daschle Out; I Told You So (Yeah, Right)

AB reminds me that I called it right when I said that Tom Daschle would withdraw as HSS Secretary nominee. Right, HAHA… the only problem being that I chickened out and began to think that he would make it after all, as my response to MTC’s comment shows. In my defense, I note that everybody appeared to feel the same way, so his withdrawal took the whole world by surprise.

In any case, I don’t feel particularly vindicated. One report raised the NYT editorial that ripped into Daschle as the precipitating event and it may be so, but I think that the immediate cause of his fall was White House Performance Officer nominee Nancy Killefer’s nanny-tax predicament. It would not have been surprising if the White House felt that the added burden of yet another tax delinquency issue was too much weight for the new Obama administration to bear. In any case, when Killefer stepped off, there was no way that Daschle could stay on. I’m playing a what-if game here, but I suspect that he would have made it to harbor if he had been the only one out there.

This is yet another example that illustrates the difficulties of calling the outcome of political events. Simply put, sh*t happens. (Now that wasn’t too salty, was it?)

Incidentally, there’s an interesting side issue here. AB wonders why similar cases have run within the two most recent Democratic administrations—the Clinton administration with its nannygates and the Obama administration with its tax delinquents. Well, I guess nannygate is what happens when they unleash a seasoned opposition research team on highly successful female professionals-people that the Clinton administration made an extra effort to recruit. Tax delinquency may be what happens when there’s something wrong with the vetting team’s checklist.

Then why aren’t we seeing nannygate this time around? Perhaps they’ve learned from the Clinton experience and are asking the right questions. But Killefer tripped up on what could be considered a nanny-tax compound issue. So what gives? And here I am getting into highly speculative territory. What if the Obama nominees happen to be relatively nanny-free, relying more on the extended family? Note that Obama’s mother-in-law is moving into the nanny-less White House. Or more do-it-(all-)yourself than the professional women recruited by the Clinton administration? Does this have anything to do with their cultural backgrounds? As a related question, is there a matriarchal bias, albeit unconscious, in the Obama administration? And what if all this rubs off on the rest of the Americans? Now that would be the ultimate in role models.

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