reply to post by wutone
And so in these opening days of the administration, the Obama team finds itself being criticized by bloggers on the left and the right, mocked by
television comics and questioned by reporters about whether Obama is really changing the way Washington works or just changing which political party
Some Republicans saw a double standard. "What would it be like if Hank Paulson had come in without paying his taxes, or any other member of the
cabinet?" asked Terry Nelson, a political strategist who worked for President George W. Bush and Senator John McCain, referring to Bush's Treasury
secretary. "It would be roundly attacked and roundly criticized."
Several Democrats, including some who have advised Obama, said privately that he had only himself to blame for laying out such an uncompromising
standard as a candidate without recognizing how it would complicate his ability to assemble an administration.
In the campaign, Obama assailed Washington's "entire culture" in which "our leaders have thrown open the doors of Congress and the White House to
an army of Washington lobbyists who have turned our government into a game only they can afford to play." He vowed to "close the revolving door"
and "clean up both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue" with "the most sweeping ethics reform in history."
The language, however, was always more sweeping than the specifics.
He spoke of refusing campaign money from lobbyists but took it from the people who hired them.
The ethics plan he outlined, and eventually imposed on his administration, did not ban all lobbyists outright but set conditions for their employment
and did not cover many who were lobbyists in everything but name.
Daschle, for instance, is not a registered lobbyist, but he made a handsome living advising clients seeking influence with the government, including
some in the health industry.
Obama also gave himself the right to grant waivers in cases he deemed exceptional, most prominently to William Lynn III, an ex-Raytheon lobbyist he
nominated as deputy defense secretary. Others were lobbyists more than two years ago, and therefore not covered by the Obama rules.
Some who worked as lobbyists have found places in the administration, including Mark Patterson, who represented Goldman Sachs and is now chief of
staff to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. William Corr, who lobbied for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, has been selected as deputy health and
human services secretary.
Obama advisers said that the exceptions were minimal. The exceptions, they said, were needed for particular skills and experience.
That argument has drawn sharp criticism from left and right.
"Is this really the message he wants to convey to voters in just his first month in office, a message that it's O.K. to break or skirt the law just
as long as you're a good guy with a special skill set?" asked Andy Ostroy, a blogger writing on The Huffington Post, a liberal Web site.
Double standards from day one? I promise not to say, "I told you so."