President Barack Obama’s unfortunate decision to stand behind his ethically-challenged selections for key cabinet positions raises serious questions about whether or not the agent of change elected by reform-starved voters is true to his word.
Obama’s steadfast support of health and human services nominee Tom Daschle following revelations that the longtime Senator failed to pay taxes on perks from fatcat supporters is the kind of stubborn, ethics-and-rules-be-damned defiance that former President George W. Bush showed whenever one of his own got into trouble.
The new President of the United States appears more interested in protecting the status quo of the power structure in Washington than on delivering his promises of reform and change in the way our government works.
If his actions on the growing Daschle debacle were the sole examples it might not send up warning flags but a growing list of actions by Obama suggests he can’t shake off the old ways of doing things in the nation’s capital.
During his historical campaign for President, Obama said no lobbyist would have a role in his administration but he has appointed lobbyists to key positions. He promised his nominees would be held to a higher standard but we have a tax scofflaw running Treasury, another one proposed for Health & Human Services and his first choice for Commerce pulled out because the FBI was closing in on that nominee’s influence peddling.
The Democratic stimulus plan passed by the House of Representatives last week by a purely partisan margin is packed with pet projects that have nothing to do with saving the economy. Obama promised to put an end to such things yet he endorsed the bill.
Obama has paid a lot of lip service to reform and change. He goes to Capitol Hill and meets with both Democrats and Republicans. He announced sweeping changes to ethics rules surrounding White House employees. He shirtsleeve style in the Oval Office is a welcome change to the stuffiness of the Bush Administration.
But his efforts at change and reform are destroyed through his support of ethically-flawed nominees like Daschle. Daschle is a product of old-school Washington, the place where power and influence are bartered to the highest bidder.
So far, Obama is talking the talk but he’s a long way from walking the walk.