Consistently during the transition, President-elect Obama vowed to vet his picks carefully for ethics issues. But althugh he borught more care and atention to these issues than any president in my memory, just two weeks into this new presidency, there have already been <a href=”http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=100249850&ft=1&f=1003″>at least five nominees who’ve either raised ethics eyebrows or withdrawn entirely</a>: Bill Richardson, Tom Daschle, Nancy Killefer, Timothy Geithner, and William J. Lynn III among them. And there are several others whose close ties to the industries they’re supposed to regulate could make people more than a little nervous.
This is not the rampant and blatant corruption and favoritism of the Bush presidency, or even the somewhat shady dealings under Clinton. But still, it does raise questions–lots of questions.
The biggest question in my mind is whether the flaws are inherent in the system. Do we need such wide restructuring that the revolving door is bolted shut? And if we do, how do we find people with the competencies needed to run these huge agencies?
What is refreshing, though, is Obama’s willingness to stand up and say that he “screwed up.” After eight years of a president who refused to take responsibility for his actions, who could not come up with a single action when asked point-blank what his mistakes were–even while he was digging the country into several concurrent very deep holes–that is a good thing indeed.