DASCHLE’S DONE…. The lead headline on MSNBC’s site reads, “Daschle withdraws his nomination for health and human services secretary.” The Washington Post and New York Times have the same headline, but no details.
First Update: Here’s CNN’s report:
Former Sen. Tom Daschle has asked President Obama to withdraw his nomination for Secretary of Health and Human Services, according to a written statement from the White House.
“This morning, Tom Daschle asked me to withdraw his nomination for Secretary of Health and Human Services,” President Obama said in the statement. “I accept his decision with sadness and regret.”
In his own statement, Daschle said he did not want to be a “distraction.”
“If 30 years of exposure to the challenges inherent in our system has taught me anything, it has taught me that this work will require a leader who can operate with the full faith of Congress and the American people, and without distraction,” Daschle said.
What’s more, MSNBC noted that this fairly devastating editorial in the New York Times this morning, calling on Daschle’s withdrawal, contributed to the decision.
Second Update: For the record, I’m a little surprised by the announcement, and thought, as of late yesterday, that all signs pointed to Daschle surviving the political controversy. That said, this also strikes me as a good news/bad news situation.
The good news is, the scope and seriousness of the questions surrounding Daschle had become both distracting and embarrassing. By cutting Daschle loose, the president is, albeit reluctantly, able to distance himself from the kind of political “business as usual” he’s always opposed.
The bad news is, the United States really needs to tackle healthcare reform, sooner rather than later. Daschle was well positioned to help advance the White House agenda through Congress, and had already done quite a bit of work in advance of his expected confirmation. Now that the tax controversy has forced Daschle out, the administration has lost time and momentum on the issue, and the likelihood of an ambitious push this year is probably lower today that it was a week ago.
Third Update: It’s way too early to know who might replace Daschle at HHS, but I’ve received quite a few emails about Howard Dean’s availability. The former DNC chairman was, after all, a successful governor who pushed healthcare reforms through his legislature. That said, I still doubt Rahm Emanuel would welcome Dean into the administration with open arms.
Fourth Update: Igor Volsky raises a good point. Daschle was not only poised to head HHS, but also serve as the head of the newly-formed White House Office on Health Reform. The prior needed Senate confirmation, but the latter does not. Might Daschle withdraw from one job while taking the other? Would the eventual HHS nominee want the same dual-role Obama offered Daschle?