Health and Human Services secretary nominee Tom Daschle is a man so steeped in entitlement that, when he began working in the private sector after 25 years in Congress, he happily agreed to be squired around town to his de facto lobbying job by a wealthy friend's driver and never once suspected that such a lavish perk might be a form of compensation and not something he just deserved by being so important.
He also apparently failed to report some consulting fees and made some "questionable charitable contributions" in the years since he retired from the Senate. And, as Emily Yoffepoints out in the Washington Post, nobody really knows what exactly Tom Daschle did to earn almost $5.2 million in two years, outside of some vague fundraising and advising tasks.
Barack Obama has talked a lot about changing two things in Washington: its culture and its tone. There is surely no creature of Washington culture more reviled, and more ready for retirement, than the kind of person who glides from a Senate sinecure to a handful of "consulting" jobs without ever having to suffer the indignity of taking the Metro, and who ends up owing more in back taxes than most people can ever hope to make in a year. And there is surely no creature of Washington less likely to change its tone, earn the trust of a naturally suspicious public, and persuade an intractable opposition party to compromise on an issue as important as health care than a man who has spent the last several years cashing in lucrative industry chits.
Perhaps the most positive spin you can put on this is that Tom Daschle has proven himself an extremely able and effective Washington maneuverer, which does tend to be an advantage when you're trying to push through major legislation. So who knows, maybe he'll be great! Barack Obama certainly thinks so, and he's never been wrong about a nominee before.