Goodbye, Tom Daschle

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Well, the Daschle nomination is no more. He’s withdrawn his name which is in keeping with the idea that Obama would not actually have to fire him. We’re still sorting out details on what happened between Obama’s endorsement yesterday and the predictions of the likes of myself and George Stephanopoulos who thought that he’d muscle through it despite being bruised. Were there more tax problems? Did he just grow tired of the scrutiny? Was he asked to withdraw or did he do it of his own volition? We’ll know more, I’m sure, as the day goes on.

After Daschle, a few big questions:

1. How many more officials are going to run into the tax buzzsaw. Just spoke to someone who is applying for a senior job in the administration. “If you haven’t been preparing for public service your whole life, you’re really kind of screwed,” said the person. That may be a bit much, but it does raise the question of what tax indiscretion/error is now enough to derail your career in the Obama administration.

2. What’s Plan B for HHS and the health care campaign? Remember Daschle was not only supposed to run the largest cabinet agency but also to quarterback health care reform. Will the jobs now be bifurcated?

3. What’re the recriminations for Leo Hindery, the New York financier for whom Daschle worked? Did he do anything untoward or was this all Daschle’s failure to keep his accounting straight?

4. How badly is Obama tarnished by this both in terms of his competence–two cabinet nominees choke before they reach their confirmation hearings–and his promise of reform.

5. It’s No Fun Being Majority Leader. Look what’s happened to the last majority leaders in the Senate. Bob Dole quit the post and his senate seat in 1996 and lost badly. Trent Lott got ushered out of office thanks to TPM and others who noted his praise of Strom Thurmond’s 1948 presidential campaign. Bill Frist was a flameout. Now Daschle’s career in public service seems at an end. Makes you not want to run for the leadership.

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