James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association, a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media, and a professor of communication studies at Whitworth University.

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Daschle and Killefer tax patience with Obama selection process

Posted by James McPherson on February 3, 2009

Citing the age-old excuse that the fight for his confirmation would be “a distraction,” Tom Daschle has “withdrawn” from consideration as secretary of Health and Human Services. Daschle became the second Barack Obama nominee to jump ship in a matter of hours. The first, chief performance officer nominee Nancy Killefer withdrew earlier today, citing unspecified tax issues and, of course, the potential “distraction” issue.

I’m inclined to agree with my Republican friends who see irony in the fact that so many Dems have so many people providing “personal services” for them, and seem to have more trouble paying their own taxes than raising the taxes of others (Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, you’ll remember, was approved despite his own tax problems). I agree with most progressives that the tax rate should be higher than it is, and that a far lower percentage of it should go to military contracts and no-bid contracts, but Barack, in case you’re looking for help in your administration, I pay my taxes and have never had a nanny, driver or gardener.

Of course a better choice, would be Howard Dean, as I wrote a few days ago.

Same day update #1: I had missed this earlier, but Daschle’s withdrawal probably became inevitable after the New York Times editorialized yesterday that he should do so.

Same day update #2: Obama admits he “screwed up” by selecting Daschle. If he doesn’t choose Dean, in my view he’ll probably be screwing up again.

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8 Responses to “Daschle and Killefer tax patience with Obama selection process”

  1. Gabrielle said

    Maybe so, but I still literally squee’d when the “Obama says ‘I screwed up’ about Daschle” came up on the news feed on my MSN homepage. Mostly because those literal words came out of his mouth. After the last eight years, it’s a refreshing attitude in the administration. Even if it’s about something small (ish).

  2. cbk16 said

    It isn’t just Dashele’s 140 K in taxes, (which is a lot of taxes to owe, maybe jail time is in order?) but all the other picks with taxes and ethics issues. Does Obama have any ethical friends? The stimulus just looks like a trillion dollar pork spending giving money to Democrat donors as payback for their support, kind of a quid pro quo. The Dems have controlled congress since 2006, what have they done for the country during this time?

  3. Daniel said

    Let me get this straight… Daschle oews 900 bucks…
    hmmm, I’l bet that is the bare minimum of about 90% of the nation’s citizens right about now.
    Obama is self-depricating, and beating himself up, because Daschle lied to him about his past…
    The nation loses and takes an insurmountable step back on health care, because Daschle resigns…
    hmmm…
    I got it! Take the 900 dollars from the trillions of dollars the Obama campaign made and is still making, and pay it off. This way Daschle stays, and the health care system is saved! EVERYBODY WINS!!!!
    Obama wanted common sense politics… I think heeding this simple advice would be a tremendous step in the right direction.

  4. DC32 said

    I completely agree with Daniel about letting this one go, for the better of our society. If he was as trusted and experienced as the administration said he was for that position, then let us believe a tax “error” was really a tax “error.” This is getting out of control. I can understand when Mr. Geitner loses his nomination because of that, the possible head of the IRS can make no mistakes on his taxes (past or present) when so many citizens are continually harassed by them, but this man could lead us to a universal health care system, and for that we need to be able to turn a couple of blind eyes. I am sorry, but it will be impossible to find someone in the government to fill these roles that have no skeletons in their closet. Call me a cynic, but I know we all believe it to be true. The only people President Obama will find to fill these positions will be recently graduated brown nosers that have little to no experience. I understand Obama’s goal to clean up Washington, but unfortunately cleaning up Washington is near impossible and at the moment we have too many other things that we have to worry about.

  5. wackoae said

    I find it hilarious the way the Obamanatics are trying to change the news to “look how great Obama is”. People are such fanatics that they refuse to see that Obama is already showing that he is totally unqualified for the job.

    It is laughable when he says that he screwed up …. when he knew that he was a tax evader, but ignored the fact even weeks after it became public knowledge. The fact is he was trying to reward a supporter by putting him in a high position and didn’t care about anything. But now that “stuff” hit the fan, he is now in “damage control mode”.

    Just look at others in his staff. Even the Secretary of Treasure is a well know tax evader, but he still insisted on the appointment.

  6. Dr. McPherson,
    As I always, I appreciate your intellectual honesty at being willing to criticize “your side.” Obama is a real test for media outlets, to see whether it can still “speak truth to power” when many of them are such huge fans of the guy.

  7. […] nominee, after Bill Richardson, to accept and then reject the commerce position. Tax problems have derailed nominees for two other positions. Yet while embarrassing–prompting Obama’s […]

  8. […] be wrong. A couple of days ago I wrote about Sarah Palin (who apparently pays taxes as if she were a Democrat) grabbing a bit of face time on Fox News (the sort of time she has billed Alaskan taxpayers for in […]

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