February 3rd, 2009
04:36 PM ET

Daschle did the honorable thing

Program Note: Tune in to hear more from Ed Rollins tonight on AC360 at 10pm ET.

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Ed Rollins
CNN Contributor

Sports fans argue that the National Football League is the toughest game outside of war. I would argue Washington politics is also a pretty rough arena.

You may not get your nose broken or your shoulder dislocated, but you can sure get your reputation bloodied, and the bruises don't go away by the next game.

The latest casualties of D.C. politics are former Senate Majority Leader and, until his withdrawal, Secretary of Health and Human Services designee Tom Daschle; and Nancy Killefer, who resigned as the president's chief performance officer (without the same notoriety).

Mr. Daschle is the second nominated member of President Obama's Cabinet, following New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, to step down after having his reputation tarnished. He did the honorable thing. He could have survived. The president would have stood by him, and his former Democratic "club members" in the Senate would have confirmed him.


Filed under: Ed Rollins • Raw Politics
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Grumpyoldfan

    Perhaps all in the House and Senate should have to go through a 'vetting' process before taking office. Perhaps, they too should have to sign the ethical standards that the staff so far has had to sign. Given the Republican Parties advance to the moral and ethical high ground after the last eight years of transgressions that have suddenly been 'forgotten' I find their new 'attack dog attitude' in response to Tom Daschle interesting.

    February 4, 2009 at 5:49 am |
  2. Steve

    Daschele was too wired in DC and with the medical community to have been effective in that post. He did America a favor by removing himself. Tim Geither should be the next to go.

    February 4, 2009 at 5:45 am |
  3. J.V.Hodgson

    Yes I suppose he did, but for the wrong reason ( tax) as opposed to previous lobbying connections.
    There is too much concern over the fact they stepped down and whether it reflects badly ( really that's reflection only) on Obama instead of solving the problem of who can be appointed to those positions as they are both Urgent and critical to resolving the nations crisis. Bemoaning the issue does nothing to help and they have come up with Penalty cash for thier mistake or whatever, and having done so are not criminals under any law in the US or anywhere else for that matter.
    For me the question is, did they own up themselves however belatedly, or did the authorities send them the bill? Former OK let the appointment proceed, latter they should stand down.

    February 4, 2009 at 3:20 am |
  4. Brian Black

    I think we should view the current tax problems of these three appointees as part of the process of changing Washington. Perhaps this should be a big red flag for the IRS to audit all of the elected officials, lobbyists, and private contractors working in the federal government. With these three, the people have regained close to 1/4 of a million dollars of unpayed taxes (if I undertand the reported numbers correctly). We may be on our way to paying down the national debt. Lets go back 8 years and audit the previous administration, lobbyists and private contractors who worked in the federal government and see what that nets.

    February 4, 2009 at 2:53 am |
  5. Robert

    This guy was a turd. He got caught with his hand on the maids butt and was prepared to fight and grovel etc since the "club would pass him most likely". This guy was in the senate for years and is no doubt a very smart guy. Smart guys can be tax cheats and he was fine with cheating until about the time he was nominated, much like our Treasury Sec. They all find religion on their political death bed.

    February 4, 2009 at 12:17 am |
  6. EJ (USA)

    If Daschle really wanted it, then he should've put a ring on it.

    February 3, 2009 at 11:23 pm |
  7. barry c

    come on ed..the honorable thing to do..would have been not to put the president in this situation....

    February 3, 2009 at 11:16 pm |
  8. Alexis Devone

    Just like the media to try to turn the public against out president! Wake up America we voted him in for a reason! For the religous mind GOD didn't create the world without imperfections or America wouldn't be in this position! So give him time its been 15 days!

    February 3, 2009 at 10:57 pm |
  9. Pat Canada

    Well Ed I have great respect for you but I have to disagreeon the Honourable Thing. The honourable thing for Daschle to do would have been to decline the President's offer. He had to know his taxes would be a problem given taxes certainly haven't been a unique problem with Obama's recent appointments. Its looking like many Politicians actually do believe they should get special treatment re: taxes.

    February 3, 2009 at 10:12 pm |
  10. Mike - Fort Walton Beach

    It is incredible that the media is more concerned with the nomination of Daschle because of his tax evasion than they are about the fact that the Internal Revenue Service isn't doing their job. No wonder this country is in such dire financial conditions.

    February 3, 2009 at 9:10 pm |
  11. Dulcie - Denver

    I have to say that I'm getting a little fatigued over some of the more shrill comments regarding appointees who have some tax issues. It really isn't the end of the world. While certainly not admirable, they aren't fraudulent either.

    *I* happen to owe back taxes. The IRS does not throw anyone in jail for oversights or back taxes. They send you a bill. Then you can call them an make a payment arrangement.

    While I won't say that the tax issues are 'much ado about nothing', I think they need to be kept in perspective. In Mr. Daschle's case, I suspect the other issues (his wife being a lobbyist, etc) were what put him over the line.

    So yeah, I think he did the honorable thing and is essentially an honorable man. An oversight doesn't make one a tax cheat. After all, he did pay the rest of his taxes.

    February 3, 2009 at 7:56 pm |
  12. Linda B., Ga.

    Ed, I totally agree with you!

    February 3, 2009 at 7:39 pm |
  13. debra

    2 years ago my daughter was unable to pay $3,000.00 in federal taxes that she owed. I stepped to the plate and paid the money leaving a total of approxiamtely $ 800.00 in my savings. Today, I still have that same amount in savings. Times are hard and I am having trouble getting by, but felt the right thing to do was pay what she owed. She is an adult, it was not my responsibility but I did it. I am not looking for pats on my back, but really, if I could pay it with barely any money, why can't these rich folks pay up? Really.

    February 3, 2009 at 7:27 pm |
  14. Karen

    Finally we have someone actually putting country first! To bad we had to lose him.

    February 3, 2009 at 7:21 pm |
  15. Adrian

    Obama is trying to drive everything in a speed of thought, as a result he is missing the fundamentals,are everybody ready for the speed that he is dreaming of, is everyone ready to connect with his dreams...

    February 3, 2009 at 7:19 pm |
  16. robyn caffrey keyser'' west virginia

    yes he did"'

    yes we can

    February 3, 2009 at 6:50 pm |
  17. Larry

    Don't forget to audit the executive branch.

    February 3, 2009 at 6:43 pm |
  18. Terry

    He didn't do the honorable thing...he did the only thing.

    They should audit the entire House and Senate.

    February 3, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  19. James, Charlotte

    This issue has nothing to do with Tom Daschle. The problem is all about tax loops that everyone benefits from in one way or another. He is honorable by letting all the media talk less about him and more about the country's financial problems. The private sector is more profitable to anyone! Thanks Mr. Daschle for deciding yourself to do the right thing.

    February 3, 2009 at 6:09 pm |
  20. Sharon, LA, CA

    They should all be audited. And why are there no ramifacaitons as there would be for the rest of us? His reputation is hurt? I doubt that very much. This is pitiful. I repeat, they should all be audited!

    February 3, 2009 at 6:02 pm |
  21. Melissa from New Orleans

    I'm not sure I'd call it honorable. I think I'd call it "responsible". Its about time we saw some of this in politics.

    February 3, 2009 at 5:39 pm |
  22. Melissa from New Orleans

    I'm not sure I'd call it honorable. I think I'd call it "responsible". Its about time we saw some of this in politics.

    February 3, 2009 at 5:39 pm |
  23. Larry

    Al Capone must be turning over in his grave, laughing.

    February 3, 2009 at 5:34 pm |
  24. xtina, chicago IL

    Can Barack Obama please come up with a Cabinet nominee in the next 48 hours that isn't a tax cheat ?!

    February 3, 2009 at 5:30 pm |

    What I want to know is who is checking these people out before hand. Did'nt Obama promise that the old way of politic's was history. I voted for him and I wonder is he the real thing that all of us hoped for. He and his staff need to do a MUCH better job than they have in the last 2 weeks. No more blunders that could have been easily avoided.

    February 3, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  26. Cheryl, MN

    I think we're all just gun-shy...don't trust anyone. Yes, I think he did the honorable thing.

    There were precious few honorable people in the Bush administration...and they were all masters at sweeping controversy under the rug. Talk about sleazy? That was sleaze at it's very finest.

    How about giving this new administration a chance for heaven's sake. There will be plenty of self-correction – unlike the previous eight years. I'm not giving up on them, yet.

    February 3, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  27. Wolfgang

    What's honorable about it? – Accepting the nomination in the first place? – You and I would be in jail by now awaiting a second chance in 10-15 years!

    February 3, 2009 at 5:05 pm |
  28. Mike, Syracuse NY

    So Ed Rollins, does the withdrawal of Daschle and Kellefer, and the confirmation of Geitner signal the end of Taxgate?

    February 3, 2009 at 5:05 pm |
  29. Padma , NJ, USA

    I have been following the cabinet nominations by President Obama and his trusted and capable team.

    Prior to even naming a candidate for cabinet poitions, the first thing the President should do is to obtain a thorough background check on the proposed candidates – check on credit, tax/lien, civil, criminal, DMV and SSN checks. In addition, he needs to check the history on how many nanny's, home helpers, gardeners and chaufffers were hired by this candidate, and were all these people in legal status to live in the USA and were they authorized to work.

    If there are any issues with the above checks, the President must tread cautiously and re-assess the viability of these candidates.
    At this time, we see candidates nominated by the President having to deal with scandalous issues such as tax evasion and hiring illegal workers. Come'on what is so difficult in obtaining a background check?? It saves Presidential embarrassment and tax payers $$$!!

    February 3, 2009 at 4:57 pm |
  30. JC- Los Angeles

    Honorable thing? Huh? Say what? come again? Excuse me?

    February 3, 2009 at 4:57 pm |
  31. Kevin

    No one can seriously believe that Daschle withdrew over "forgetting" to pay his taxes?! This is just the tip of the iceberg...he wants this to stop right here.

    February 3, 2009 at 4:56 pm |
  32. Kristen-University Park, PA

    Yes how honorable it was of him to forget to pay his taxes. Then step aside after being found out.

    February 3, 2009 at 4:50 pm |
  33. Annie Kate

    Daschle would have been good in the position he was nominated for; his stepping aside shows that he can put the good of the team and the country before his own good. I hope Obama can find someone that will be as good as Daschle would have been in that post and that this person can get confirmed. I shudder to think that if Obama has this much trouble filling a cabinet position how much trouble will he have filling an open position for the Supreme Court.

    February 3, 2009 at 4:46 pm |