Not all Washington, D.C. whores are wealthy Dull Republican polistical prostitutes: meet former Senator THOMAS DASCHLE, former partner in the late Sentor HOWARD HENRY BAKER, Jr. corporate law firm:
The Daschles: feeding at the Beltway trough
Even for the most cynical observer of Washington sleaze, Tom and Linda Daschle's exploits are quite striking.
Before he was elected to Congress 30 years ago from South Dakota, he had very, very few skills outside of the political arena. He was an Air Force intelligence officer for three years in the early 1970s, then worked for six years as an aide to South Dakota Sen. James Abourezk, then was elected to the House and then the Senate, where he became Majority Leader. So he's spent virtually his entire adult life working on Capitol Hill.
Daschle's expertise and insights, gleaned over 26 years in Congress, earned him more than $5 million over the past two years, including $220,000 from the health-care industry, and perks such as a chauffeured Cadillac, according to the documents.
In doing so, he followed perfectly in the footsteps of his second wife, Linda, who served as the Clinton administration's Acting Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, and then, once she left her position running the agency that regulates the airlines industry, returned to her extremely lucrative lobbying practice with her largest clients being American Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Boeing, Lockheed and various airports and airport executive associations -- the very companies that she had been regulating. She began lobbying the Senate on behalf of those clients as soon as Tom left the Senate, where -- needless to say -- he has many "friends" and others who remain loyal to him, and she is continuously successful in defeating measures to impose greater regulations on the airline industry and to obtain other massively beneficial legislation for them.
So who's left to scrutinize the relationship? The answer is the press. But Daschle has them covered too. Unlike Hillary a decade ago, Linda Daschle is a Beltway insider who understands the rules of the game. The main rule is that the effects of your actions, no matter how dubious---say, weakening airline safety---are never grounds for a scandal so long as you first, disclose your actions, and then, don't violate the ethics rules in the process. If Tom or Linda Daschle had secretly taken a free pair of Superbowl tickets from Northwest Airlines and then pushed the airline bailout plan, that would be a big story. But the fact that Tom Daschle takes thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Northwest and his wife's firm collects $200,000 a year to lobby for them is no problem at all.
Other than his being more extreme than most, and the fact that he and his wife work in tandem as a public-private team, there isn't anything particularly unusual about how Tom Daschle functions. He's quite emblematic of the Beltway syndrome. But that's the point: while it's unreasonable to expect that Obama will be able to avoid all ethically questionable individuals, it seems rather unnecessary to take one of the most ethically compromised Beltway mavens and place him in charge of a massive industry, one that has been lavishing him with undeserved wealth for the past several years.
She met Tom Daschle on a work trip to South Dakota. At the time, Tom Daschle was a freshman congressman, married to the woman who in 1978 had helped him ring 40,000 doorbells and go on to unseat an incumbent by 14 votes. By 1984, Tom had divorced his first wife, with whom he had three children, and married Linda . . .
. . . . with this 2003 clip of Tom Daschle, explaining to Jon Stewart that gay marriage must not be allowed because "a man and a woman have a sacred and a traditional cultural bond within this country. . . it's a statement of fact: society is embracing the marriage of a man and a woman, and by and large, that's the way it should be . . . DOMA is the statute and I don't think it's unconstitutional":
UPDATE II: Back in June, 2008, when Barack Obama violated his clear commitment to filibuster any bill containing telecom immunity by doing the opposite: voting for cloture on such a bill and then voting of the bill itself, it was -- as Matt Stoller noted at the time -- Tom Daschle who defended Obama's behavior in The Washington Post, by invoking the two leading all-purpose, Obama-justifying clichés: "Those who accomplish the most are those who don't make the perfect the enemy of the good. Barack is a pragmatist."
Tom Daschle is going to end up in a powerful position within the Obama administration, either head of HHS or Chief of Staff. He's going to use the millions he and his wife have made to throw parties, give gifts, have a wonderful life, go to important conferences like Davos, and generally preach in favor of "moderation' and 'bipartisanship". What's important here is that we on OpenLeft and in the blogs in general be educated about who these people really are. Tom Daschle's belief is that moderation and moving to the center is pragmatic, and it is. Or at least it is for Tom Daschle. How else would he make a million dollars a year with his friend Bob Dole [who recruited him to join Alston & Byrd]?