President Obama didn't hesitate to wave goodbye to his troubled cabinet picks. Say what you will, but his emphasis on principles over loyalty is at least a refreshing departure from the last 8 years.
America learned a very valuable lesson over the past month or so: Barack Obama will not hesitate to cut you. Metaphorically speaking, that is! Between January 4 and February 3, our nation witnessed the casual defenestration of three of Barack Obama's biggest boosters. Is there no friend he won't abandon in favor of "clean government" and the like?
First, Bill Richardson. Obama's pleasantly rotund comic foil won big points with the then-candidate by backing Obama instead of his old friends Bill and Hillary Clinton, even though the former president threw bunches of jobs his way once upon a time. Obama rewarded Richardson's loyalty and support by, number one, not offering him the position he really wanted, which was Secretary of State, and number two, not putting up any fight either publicly or privately when Richardson withdrew from the nomination because he was under a grand jury investigation.
Another early Obama supporter who incurred the endless wrath and enmity of the Clintons was America's princess, Caroline Kennedy. While Obama let it be known that he would have liked her to take Hillary Clinton's vacated Senate seat, he didn't press the issue and instead let the governor of New York completely and very publicly mismanage the process. New Yorkers revolted against dynastic politics and Caroline Kennedy ended up humiliated beyond her wildest imaginings, without a fun Senate seat as compensation for crossing the wrathful Clintons, but Barack Obama kept his nose clean!
Which brings us to Tom Daschle, a man without whom Obama may never have been elected. Daschle funneled a number of key staffers his way, including the incomparable Pete Rouse, who basically choreographed Obama's entire Senate career as a prelude to running for president. Say what you will about Daschle, he is a savvy man who knows his way around Washington -- and his knowledge and connections were tremendously useful to candidate Obama. So how does the president repay his mentor? First, he offers him a pivotal cabinet post overseeing one of the largest policy overhauls in modern American history, which is nice. Then, when it becomes clear that the Daschle nomination won't survive public scrutiny, Obama quietly throws him under the bus.
It's all kind of refreshing, really, to see a president cut loose his closest friends and benefactors in favor of the appearance of propriety. Contrast the gory undercarriage of Obama's metaphorical bus with the pristine transport of our last president, who would rather drive it into a ditch than throw any of his own evil, odious, malfeasant, incompetent friends under it. Bush's legendary loyalty came at no small cost to his own reputation. Obama might be comparatively disloyal, but it appears to be in service of principle.
Sara K. Smith writes for NBC and Wonkette when she is not working on her scrapbook of Nixon memorabilia.