Outrage over Tom Daschle's tax woes didn't even come close to reaching the dull apogee achieved by critics of Timothy Geithner on Sunday, with Daschle allies -- like John Kerry -- briskly making the "to know him is to love him or at least wish him no specific set of injuries" case, and opponents adopting a mostly wait-and-see attitude. It was almost as if everyone was working off of some sort of script!
One: So are they all, all honorable men
This argument holds that yes, his "tax problems" are serious, definitely worthy of condemnation but, hey, he disclosed everything voluntarily (which is a really hilarious word under the circumstances, isn't it?), he has sworn, just like Tim Geithner did, that it was all unintentional, and he has apologized handsomely, just like Tim Geithner did. So he should be confirmed, just like Tim Geithner was.
Two: That's what friends are for
In a different vein, commentators are arguing that yes, he fudged his taxes, but that won't really be held against him, because what's a little tax evasion between friends? Specifically, Daschle is very popular in the Senate, he still has lots of friends there, and so his nomination will sail through, tax evasion be damned.
I think that's more or less it. If there's one thing missing between Geithner and Daschle, it's that Daschle isn't getting the benefit of being defended as a sage, indispensible genius that America just has to have in its time of need. Without the myth of infallibility at his back, Daschle is probably falling back on a long government career, intimate knowledge of every lobbyist in town, and a Google Map awareness of where everyone's bodies are buried.
Anyway, it's entirely unsurprising to see the Senate soft-foot these nominations and refuse to dig down deep into questions of tax-dodging. This is the governmental body, after all, that spent the bulk of a day giving a hero's sendoff to a criminal, mere months ago.