Well, we knew it had to happen. Only not so soon: The failed presidency of Barack Obama! He did the best he could, given the dire economic situation, the two- or maybe three-front war, and the bipartisan tone he tried, but failed, to bring to Washington. How strange, though, that his own cabinet nominees delivered the knockout blow!
How to avoid this problem in the next administration? My suggestion is that the next president-elect, or even the nominees, start by scrapping the "vetting process" altogether. It never works, no matter how well-intentioned the parties involved. Instead, take a page from John McCain's playbook: Make choices based entirely on gut instinct. Take Sarah Palin. She received no vetting, just a quick spin in McCain's golf cart. The voters took it upon themselves to decide she was a disaster.
Why waste weeks or months of citizens' precious time, declaring that "my administration will be the most honest and ethical in history," then choose nominees who are certain to have tax, nanny, and/or campaign fundraising problems, no matter what they say?
Why not have a president-elect just go ahead and name his favorite people in the world to whatever posts he likes, with no scrutiny? Congress and the press can do the vetting for him. Or her. The Constitution calls for "advise and consent" in these matters. Let the Senate do its job and give the thumbs up or thumbs down.
Why portray Tom Daschle as a combination of Dr. Jonas Salk and Mother Teresa on the subject of health insurance, when he's first and foremost an ex-senator turned influence peddler? Just nominate the guy because you think he's right for the job, then let him sink or swim before a Senate hearing committee, on YouTube, or in the pages of The New York Post.
In fact, I wonder if sink-or-swim nominees might fare better than those who have undergone an exhaustive vetting process before a panel of august, "impartial" Washington gray-beards? Maybe Tom Daschle would have been more wary if he'd had to jump into the swamp of confirmation hearings on his own -- without the life raft tossed him by the vetting committee, the members of which are his chums anyway?
Of course, if you're Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico and ex-nominee for commerce secretary, you had another problem: the mirror. Murky campaign fundraising aside, he couldn't conceal his massive, bulging double chin(s). And the Wolfman Jack beard he grew last summer didn't fool anybody.
Unfortunately, when Richardson shaved off his beard in preparation for his nomination to head the Commerce Department, it looked as though he was about to reach critical mass. That he needed but "one thin mint" to trigger detonation!
So, as Barack Obama attempts to resuscitate his presidency, I trust he'll ignore the vetting process in the future, nominate whomever for whatever, and let nature take its course.
Well, end of rant. If you'd like to peruse other samples of my work, please click here.