The Senate Intelligence Committee is taking up the last of President Barack Obama's nominee for a high-profile national security post, the surprising pick of Leon Panetta to head the CIA.
Going into Thursday's public hearing, the former Democratic congressman from California knows he will have to give up lucrative seats on boards of directors, end his consulting work and do without well-paid speeches while running the spy agency.
In the end, the Obama administration's caps on executive pay for foundering financial institutions that receive major public bailout money may be largely symbolic. But it is symbolism that taxpayers and Congress, outraged at lavish pay and huge bonuses for poor performance, are demanding.
The precipitating factor was the disclosure that Wall Street paid out more than $18 billion in year-end bonuses even as it was collapsing into the arms of the federal Treasury.
I've handed over today's column to my friends in the drunken sailor community, who have an important message for America.
A lot of water has passed under the keel since we in the drunken sailor community last asked our favorite matey to hand over the wheel of his column for a day.
As you may remember, that old sea dog Reg, the usual author of this log, came to our attention after he wrote about crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a saucy sloop.
His infant presidency already shaped by mounting national troubles, President Barack Obama now faces an added challenge: weathering the fallout of a spate of nomination glitches.
"I screwed up," Obama said repeatedly after two top nominees withdrew their names from consideration, saying they wanted to avoid becoming distractions for the president as he seeks to move ahead with an ambitious agenda. "I'm frustrated with myself, with our team."
Along with Tom Daschle, Tim Geithner and Nancy Killefer, plus Joe Biden, David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel and all the president's vexing vetters, I also must share some the blame for the sudden puncture and deflation of Barack Obama's Glorious Expectations Balloon.Read More
President Obama greeted Thomas Daschle's decision to withdraw as nominee to be secretary of Health and Human Services with "sadness and regret" -- and surely with something approaching relief. The tax problems of Obama's nominees were threatening to become the stuff of late night comedy. And they were doing nothing for the president's credibility on his high-minded new ethics standards.
It wasn't so long ago that Barack Obama was on the campaign trail, talking about hope and change, about the purity he would bring to Washington. A true believer could maybe imagine a movie musical and a melodious voice singing, "The hills are alive with the sound of music ... "
Now comes reality, governing, and two cabinet nominees who evaded taxes, one nominee faced with corruption allegations and another nominee who was going to keep an eye on government performance but who apparently neglected to keep an eye on her own.
Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination on Tuesday to be President Barack Obama's Health and Human Services secretary, faced with problems over back taxes and potential conflicts of interest.
Barack Obama promised a "clean break from business as usual" in Washington. It hasn't quite worked out that way.
From the start, he made exceptions to his no-lobbyist rule. And now, embarrassing details about Cabinet-nominee Tom Daschle's tax problems and big paychecks from special interest groups are raising new questions about the reach and sweep of the new president's promised reforms.
Eric Holder has won confirmation as the first African-American attorney general, but he'll have little time to consider his role in history as he decides which Bush administration counterterrorism policies to reverse.
Holder was confirmed 75-21 Monday, with all the opposition coming from Republicans. He will be sworn in Tuesday by Vice President Joe Biden.