Corruption, Part III
February 4, 2009

But it turns out that Obama’s words, well, mattered. They made it harder to ignore scandal, as the Bush administration had done. The endlessly long vetting forms forcing deep tax and income transparency, which in turn uncovered embarrassments that would never have emerged under past regimes. This has made for a more troubled transition, but will probably also result in a cleaner administration. For all the embarrassments, this, in a concrete sense, is what change looks like. It’s not an administration that decides to be clean so much as one that has little choice in the matter.

Ezra Klein, at the end of by far the best comment I’ve seen on the Daschle thing. I just want to add that this is a much more eloquent version of why I have been concerned about Obama’s tolerance for corruption (and happy about his apparent lack of tolerance now). Bush tolerated unbelievably worse corruption in his administration than what we’ve seen from Daschle and Geithner, but there was no particular narrative about it outside the lefty blogs (although it’s endlessly hilarious that in 2001 Bush vowed to run the government like a corporation given all the stories now about corporate governance). Corruption in the Obama administration runs directly against his narrative of change, and so tolerating it would devastate him. It also supports the explicit anti-government conservative movement narrative where government is bloated and ineffective and should just stay out of the way.

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Petty Corruption
February 1, 2009

Here and here are two more data points to add to the pattern I mentioned a few weeks ago of Obama putting up with petty corruption by people on his administration. I don’t like this pattern and I hope it goes away.

Incidentally, I just want to echo the point resonating across the lefty blogs this week. If the Republicans are all going to vote against the stimulus package, and if the Democrats are therefore going to get all the credit if it succeeds and all the blame if it fails, and if the stakes are really as high as everyone says they are, then shouldn’t Democrats try to pass the best possible package policy-wise (i.e. lots of infrastructure and long-term spending), and not one laden with tax cuts and pork and all the other petty corruption ordinarily used to grease the passage of an important bill?