Healthcare being one of the issues I know a lot about and care about, I was beyond dismayed to hear that the tax-related problems derailed the nomination of Daschle. Not because I was particularly fond of his specific views on healthcare (which I was, many of them), but because he had a unique combination of qualifications that are key in pushing any reform through the Congress - he knows healthcare more than many in DC AND he can work with Congress to get things done - they respect him and like him and - more importantly - he knows the ins and outs of the sausage factory that is the Congress. In 1993-94, Hillary may have had a lot of good ideas in her healthcare reform proposals but she was the ultimate outsider. Good luck getting something as complex, partisan and inherently emotionally charged as healthcare reform done without being able to work with the legislation.
Now, I am somewhat amazed at Obama saying so openly that he screwed up. That's certainly a new phenomenon in the White House. But it doesn't make the screw up any lesser, nor does it really explain the arrogance with which they went ahead with the nomination despite knowing about these tax issues. Nor do I really understand why this reflects well on Obama - and reaffirms his committment to ethics - when it wasn't his decision to pull the nomination and if anything he kept insisting on it much like he did with Geithner. Most of all, I am very disappointed with how long it took them to come forward with the information they knew for a while. I may not know much about the White House, but I think it's a good rule of thumb that the longer you keep a secret, the harder it will come back later to bite you in the ass. And, well, it did. Lastly, I have to - and hate to - wonder, what else are they not telling us?
I am dismayed, but I hope that if nothing else, team O will learn from this to be more upfront with inconvenient information. If they hope to be different from the last presidency, that's a good place to start, and a lot of the other improvements will just follow suit.