Wed, 04 Feb 2009 16:42:06 +0000 – By Andrea TantarosRepublican Political Commentator/FOXNews.com Contributor
Ahhh, third fraud's a charm. While Obama makes the media rounds admitting that he goofed when it came to Tom Daschle -- his pick of Health and Human Services Secretary -- his actions to date still speak louder than his apologetic words. Had Obama pushed all three of his picks out (brand-new Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Daschle and Nancy Killefer) because "his administration claims to have set the highest ethical bar of any administration ever" he would have established credibility, displayed real post-partisanship and won favor with Americans. Instead he chose to be selectively ethical -- with his typical lip service on accountability-- with no action. If there ever was a time that Obama looked like an amateur, it's right now.
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When it came to Governor Bill Richardson, his second choice for Commerce Secretary, Obama said very little. Rather than chastise or accept responsibility at the time for his error in judgement, the Obama team tried spinning the press behind-the-scenes by engaging in a blame game with the New Mexico Governor.
With Timothy Geithner, the talking points were as follows: "it's a hiccup" (personally it sounded to me more like another bodily function); it was a "common mistake." Ah, yes, a common mistake that typically lands the less privilaged in prison and curiously, one that Geithner only revealed he had made after he was nominated. So, either he purposely avoided paying his taxes or he was incompetent. Either one sounds bad and reflects poorly on the Obama choice. If Turbo Tax Timmy can't understand complicated paperwork, then why are we putting him in charge of what is arguably the U.S. Department of Paperwork?? Yet, Obama still stood by his man.
With Daschle it started no differently. We heard excuse after excuse from Obama and his staff that Daschle was qualified until a woman named Nancy Killifer, Obama's pick for "Performance Czar," did the right thing and proactively withdrew her nomination citing a long paid $946 nanny problem. Obama didn't force Ms. Killifer out because his ethical standards are second to none, she bowed out and independently accepted blame.
This left no wiggle room for the ultimate limousine liberal, Tom Daschle. He could have never pressed on with his $100K plus chauffeur problem when Killifer responsibly fell on her sword. Her wise choice sunk his candidacy, not Obama's purported ethical standards. Obama had the chance to lead and he failed by "absolutely" backing his buddy until the end. Had he asked Daschle to step down instead of excusing his "goof" he would have gained favor and appeared in control. Now he's flailing.
"We can't send a message to the American people that we have two sets of rules -- one for prominent people and one for ordinary people." Obama told FOX News, CNN and others last night -- echoing the tone and tempo of his campaign. Groundbreaking. Then I must ask: why did you, Mr. President?
For months Obama has appeared like a duck: gliding along smoothly -- but below the surface that duck is peddling furiously to stay afloat. From someone who promised extraordinary change, we've only seen common mistakes. Perhaps when your "highest-ever ethical bar" is causing you to repeatedly trip in the first weeks of your presidency you might want to consider raising it.
Andrea Tantaros currently serves as co-host of Fox News Channel's The Five (weekdays 5-6 PM/ET). She joined the network as a contributor in 2010. Follow her on Twitter @andreatantaros or on Facebook.com/andreatantaros.