Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Obama - A New Ethics or Same Old Washington?

After the heady idealistic days of the campaign and promising first days of the new Obama presidency, these last several days have been very discouraging.

The President's promises and then equivocations on the backgrounds and ethical standards of his nominees (no lobbyists in the administration - except when we need a particular person in the Defense Department; high ethical standards - except when we have a special need for a particular person who has had some rather egregious oversights in paying taxes) prompts thoughts of a sobering possibility: that Obama's message of change was just a mirage - and that it's actually just business as usual in the same old Washington. It's just disillusioning.

It was reassuring, then, to see President Obama's response yesterday, acknowledging that he "screwed up" and taking responsibility for his mistake. "I'm frustrated with myself and my team," he said, pointing out the importance of sending a message that there are not two sets of rules, one for prominent people and one for ordinary folks who have to pay their taxes. "I've got to own up to my mistake," he said.

Does this all mean that Washington-as-usual wins? Obama says no. "Washington doesn't win. The fact of the matter is that Tom Daschle pulled out. And I'm here on television saying I screwed up. Part of the era of responsibility is not never making mistakes; it's owning up to them and trying to make sure you don't repeat them."

Okay, fair enough.