I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I sat down to watch a brief portion  of the evening news and there, on CBS no less, was an interview with Katie Couric and the president. The words that I heard stunned me. "I screwed up. I take responsibility for this mistake." President Obama was referring, of course, to the problems several of his choices have faced in the U. S. Senate in seeking confirmation.

First, there was Governor Bill Richardson, then former-senator Tom Daschle, and now Nancy Killefer, his choice for chief performance office for the federal government. (Obama's choice of Republican Senator Judd Gregg (photo at right), of New Hampshire, for Secretary of Commerce seems to be a solid one and an evidence, again, of non-partisanship in style and effort.)Gregg
Even Timothy Geithner, the new Treasury secretary, faced challenges about $34,000 of self-employment taxes that he had not paid. (Anyone familiar with this issue would understand why the Senate approved him since this is a more honest mistake to make and does not reveal the same problems discovered regarding both Daschle and Killefer.

The President also told ABC's World News that "This is a self-inflicted injury that I'm angry about, and we're going to make sure we get it fixed." The first response to Daschle had been the typical "defend your colleague" no-matter-what response. Even Vice-President Biden had weighed in on Daschle very favorably. The club was rallying to defend its own. Republicans rightly challenged this and the President saw the problem more clearly as it unfolded. He acted in the right way and with honesty. One can hope we will see more of this action and candor in the days ahead. I personally pray that we will. Americans will, generally speaking, respect any leader who tells them the truth and also admits he is wrong when he is.

Ethics in government is hugely important. We have accepted this kind of behavior for so long that the people rightly listened to Obama's pledge to change Washington and many were affected by it. He took a step in the right direction on Tuesday. Since I am not a political cynic I believe that there will be more of the same. Obama does not have a life-long membership in the so-called Senate club so there is real hope here since he owes little or nothing to the gang. This Washington swamp needs draining. One can hope this leader will actually do it. He is not perfect but he is showing us that he has principles. His policies are worth serious debate, especially the stimulus package, which so far is not favored by a growing number of Americans. (I saw a number that said 58% disapprove of it as it is right now!) I think we need a "real" stimulus package but the one being promoted by Congressional Democrats needs to be challenged significantly. Will the president lead in the midst of this mess? Time will tell. I am praying that he will. He took a serious step in the right direction by showing leadership and honestly with regard to his own mistakes and bad judgment.

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  1. Gene Redlin February 5, 2009 at 10:06 am

    This move was a well planned serial photo op. He hit every venue purposed to take the wind out of the critical sails. Just Like Blago conducted in the last couple weeks.
    I’m a little more cynical on all this.
    I hope he does well, but he’s a consistent bad judge of Character of those with whom he associates. That was the concern before the election.
    It still is.

  2. J. R. Miller February 5, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    Interesting take. How do you feel about Obama’s campaign pledge that he would not have ANY lobbyists in his administration, and now he has appointed a LOT of lobbyists. Granted, he has made some rules about it, but still his promise was “change” not just a modification of the same old thing. What do you think?

  3. k. darrell February 5, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    I don’t like the word cynic (makes you sound like you are grumpy, but the non-cynic is a jovial character), but prefer realist.
    Can anyone tell me what he “screwed up” on? I think he used it as a workable piece of rhetoric and the media & many have loved it – it plastered everywhere and it is seen as something substantive, yet, I don’t know what he screwed up on. I have watched the Anderson Cooper clip and the Brian Williams clip and don’t know what he screwed up. I learn that Daschle is competent, capable, and probably would’ve done better than anyone out there and made an “honest mistake” & didn’t mean to do it (Does Obama honestly believe that it was a *mistake* & he didn’t mean to? He really didn’t mean to report about $350K worth to the IRS and round up his charitable donations? He didn’t mean to?) He says, “I messed up, which is…eh…there are not two sets of rules for the powerful and ordinary folks who have to pay their taxes…” He then adds, “I’m on t.v. today saying “I screwed up…” In a time when the polls are starting to indicate that some are starting to see him as arrogant, this was a genius move, even the “screwed up” was calculated and why it was his catch phrase in all the interviews. Don’t really admit to anything aside from vague platitudes of equality and use a catchy apology. It is politics as usual.
    Anyway, Obama has an agenda (an ideology – he is an ideologue) and he is seeking to accomplish that. He wants his stimulus package passed & his “screw up” is appointing people that is taking attention away from that. He is two steps in front of all of his opponents rhetorically and he has the media in his pocket, so he should recover just fine.
    Now, I want him to lay out exactly what his stimulus package is going to do, how long it will take, and why we need to take the exact measures he wants to in the bill. If it does not fix what he claims it will in the time frame he claims it will, will he say he screwed up? Can we afford an $800B screw up? Yet, he is playing the fear card well & if he doesn’t act the whole economy is going to melt.

  4. Jim Hale February 5, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    John — you’re gullibility on this is amusing. For a more sober look at Obama’s “stunning” words, non-partisan Washington Post columnist David Broder had this to say:
    “Even when the White House belatedly learned of Daschle’s tax troubles, it misjudged the political fallout. Despite the glaring contradiction between Obama’s proclaimed ethical standards and Daschle’s lucrative expense-account life that led to his tax underpayment, Obama said he “absolutely” stood by his choice. One day later, he accepted Daschle’s withdrawal. This is a blow to Obama’s credibility that will not be easily forgotten.”

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