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Don't Mourn for Daschle

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message John Nichols       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   5 comments

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Tom Daschle has, under his usual cloud of scandal, withdrawn as President Obama's nominee to serve in the critical Cabinet position of Secretary of Health and Human Services.


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Republicans think they have dealt the new president a blow.

In fact, by opposing Daschle so strenuously, and appropriately, Republicans and a handful of principled Democratic senators (who had quietly let the White House know they were not going to back the nomination) have done the new president and the nation a favor.

The scandal over Daschle's lavish lifestyle and failure to pay taxes simply emphasized why the former Senate Majority Leader was exactly the wrong choice to serve in the administration of a Democratic president who aspires to make a break with the worst of the compromises that characterized his party during the Bush-Cheney era.

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No top Democrat did more to undermine opposition to the Republican regime than Daschle, who as the majority leader during the first years of George Bush's presidency put so much emphasis on the "loyal" part of the term "loyal opposition" that he failed his party and his country.

In the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Daschle schemed with the White House to organize a bailout for the domestic airline industry -- for which Daschle's wife was a lobbyist -- that made last fall's Wall Street bailout look like a model of fiscal accountability.

Then, Daschle worked with the Bush administration to undermine opposition to the Patriot Act in 2001 -- preventing Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold from introducing amendments that would have addressed vital civil liberties concerns.

A year later, Daschle worked in lockstep with the administration to secure congressional authorization in 2002 for an attack on Iraq.

Daschle even blocked Democratic efforts to defend the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty when Bush moved to withdraw the U.S. from the arms control agreement. As Feingold explained to this writer during the 2002 wrangling over Bush's assault on a treaty the Senate had approved by an 88-2 margin in 1972: "I wanted the leadership to take a lead. But when we contacted Daschle's office, they just weren't interested."

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