PS. I have just read that Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination to be US health secretary. In a statement, Obama said he regretted the way he had handled the case. "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," he said, according to a transcript. "You know, one for prominent people and one for ordinary folks who have to pay their taxes."
Does anyone important in Washington pay taxes? Or is that civic duty - like jury duty or serving in the military - now something that only the "little people" in America, those without deep pockets and connections, do?
Daschle's troubles are unlikely to deter the Senate from approving him. For one thing, Daschle was once the Democratic leader in the Senate, and it'll be hard for the Senate's 58 Democrats to tell him no. Also - and here is where things get really odious - by the standards of Washington, Daschle's misdeeds really aren't that bad. Treading the well-worn path from Capitol Hill to K Street (where Washington's lobbyists reside) is a longstanding and bipartisan tradition. And the taxes? Pfft. Let them eat cake!
But here's where Obama needs to remember his campaign promise to restrict the influences of lobbying. Daschle, for all of his experience and knowledge of health care, has disqualified himself from this important position because of his own personal greed. The Senate should reject his nomination.