President Obama made the nightly network news rounds tonight to both pitch his stimulus package, and take responsibility for Tom Daschle withdrawing his name from consideration to be HHS Secretary. Obama said that this was an embarrassing day for his administration.
In an interview with World News Tonight’s Charles Gibson on ABC, the president was asked if this was an embarrassing day, “Well, I think it has. I mean, I think that any time one of your nominees pulls out, that’s an issue. And, you know, as I’ve said publicly, you know, ultimately, I take responsibility for the situation that we’re in. But what I also think is important is to stay focused on the overarching theme of this administration, which is making sure that we get this economy back on track, that we provide health care for people who are in desperate need of it.”
While on the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams Obama took responsibility for nominating Daschle and expressed his anger and disappointment, “Oh it made me angry and disappointed and it’s something I have to take responsibility for. I appointed these folks. I think they are outstanding people. I think Tom Daschle as an example could have led this health care effort, a difficult effort better than just about anybody. But as he acknowledged, this was a mistake. I don’t think it was intentional on his part but it was a serious mistake. He owned up to it and ultimately made a decision that we couldn’t afford the distraction and 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.”
Obama put it more bluntly in a CNN interview with Anderson Cooper, “Well, you know, I think this was a mistake. I think I screwed up. And, you know, I take responsibility for it and we’re going to make sure we fix it so it doesn’t happen again.” This was a screw up. The White House team that did the vetting before the nominees were announced should have done a better job. It is obvious that in both the Daschle and Geithner, the White House either did not do a thorough enough job, or underestimated the political treachery associated with back taxes.
In my view, this represents Obama coming back down to Earth a bit. He was able to come in on a high and do so much so quickly that it almost seemed like the same old Washington politics weren’t there. The uproar over Tom Daschle’s back taxes is a sign that the same old hypocritical Washington politics are alive and well. What is different is that after two presidents who tended to blame others, Obama is trying to run his administration in a stand up manner. That is to be respected. I think the president has learned a valuable lesson today. He has always proven himself to be a quick study, so I believe him when he says that this won’t happen again.
Watch Obama on the NBC Nightly News: