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Daschle’s Prospects


The Daschle nomination could (and certainly should) be in very serious trouble after the last 24 hours. Surely no senator who voted against Tim Geithner (34 senators) could vote to confirm him, and many of those who voted for Geithner’s confirmation said they did so because he seemed to have unique qualifications to serve the country in this particular economic crisis that few if any other possible candidates could match. That is simply not the case for Daschle. He is the co-author of a book about health care, and has certainly taken an intense interest in the subject over the last few years, but he was never thought of as a particular health care expert as a legislator, his background and professional experience do not otherwise distinguish him in this area from dozens of people we could think of, and he has never run anything in his life (HHS employs more than 60,000 people and in a normal year spends about a quarter of the federal budget). That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be Secretary of HHS—he’s as qualified as many cabinet appointees are when they’re chosen—but it means he is not somehow uniquely qualified in a way that should override other concerns about his suitability. Senators should think seriously about whether they would put up with this nomination if he were not a former Senator and a personal friend of many of theirs, and whether those are good enough reasons to overlook his actions.


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