We’ve all heard the cliche that Obama is under more pressure than perhaps any other president in history: to fix what the old administration broke, to implement innovative legislation, to repair international relations and to restore America’s image in the eyes of the world.
After watching the Tom Daschle fiasco go down today, I realized that Obama not only has pressure, but he has to be perfect. The media, the hopeful voters and the world onlookers have put their hopes into this one man to do the right thing at all times. And no one is cutting him any slack.
Obama confidently chose Tom Daschle to head the Department of Health and Human Services and stood up for him when Daschle’s tax scandal broke. For weeks, the American public watched Obama’s Bush-like bull-headedness in Daschle’s defense, despite the evidence that this was a man who may or may not have lied about his financial records. My question is, what’s wrong with being right when everyone else thinks you’re wrong? What’s wrong with a little stubborness?
Something I disliked in Bush is now a quality I wish Obama had more of – and it has something to do with a backbone. I don’t find anything wrong with him defending his choice of Tom Daschle and making the American public see what he saw all along, to give us faith in his decision. After all, aren’t we supposed to have total confidence in this one man in every circumstance?
Sure, perhaps things would have gotten complicated down the road, and maybe Daschle would have stepped down at some point anyway. But jumping ship without at least attempting to prove the naysayers wrong is surprising, especially so early in the game. Maybe Daschle’s the one in need of a little backbone.
As Obama admitted to the world today that he had made a mistake, I saw a faint glimmer of regret in his eyes. Regret that someone in his PR department had forced him to say that it was all his fault, instead of Daschle’s inability to handle the intense media pressure.
Sure, Daschle can say that he didn’t want his actions to negatively affect the presidency (much like the words of Bill Richardson and his recent corruption scandal), but for a man to give up one of the most prestigious jobs in the world just to preserve the image of some other guy? Sorry, I’m not buyin it.
Obama will never be the perfect president, but what he might want to consider is to let his administration make mistakes. Yes, he must hold them accountable, but he shouldn’t take the brunt of their misguided efforts on his shoulders. In the case of Tom Daschle, what would have been so wrong with Obama repeating his original stance of “I believed he was the right man for the job” and letting Dashcle walk away a – somewhat – proud man?