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Is Obama's Honeymoon Over?

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By Dana Milbank
Wednesday, February 4, 2009

President Obama needed a diversion.

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At 11:09 yesterday morning, the White House announced that his nominee to be the administration's chief performance officer had withdrawn because of some underperformance on her taxes. At 12:46 in the afternoon, Tom Daschle, the president's choice to be secretary of health and human services, withdrew his nomination, also because of unpaid taxes.

And so, at 1:49 p.m., Obama hopped in his presidential limousine and took a field trip to a D.C. charter school, where he read a children's book called "The Moon Over Star" to a group of second-graders.

Good thing it wasn't "My Pet Goat."

"We were just tired of being in the White House," Obama told the children.

It was easy to see why. If this is Obama's honeymoon, one shudders to think what a lovers' quarrel would look like.

Workers haven't even finished dismantling the inaugural reviewing stand on Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House, yet already the new president has been beset by unruly congressional Democrats, uncooperative Republicans and, worst of all, a series of self-inflicted ethical wounds.

Some of Obama's most fervent supporters are angry that he hired a Raytheon lobbyist to be the Pentagon's No. 2. His Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, was technically not a lobbyist but, like Daschle, made millions in the influence business. A former Goldman Sachs lobbyist will be chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who, like Daschle and performance officer nominee Nancy Killefer, had tax problems.

It didn't help that Daschle and Killefer pulled out on the very day Obama was hosting Brian Williams, Katie Couric, Charlie Gibson, Anderson Cooper and Chris Wallace for afternoon interviews. His sessions with the news anchors turned into a serial mea culpa.

"I messed up," he told CBS's Couric.

"I screwed up," he told NBC's Williams.

"This is a self-induced injury," he told ABC's Gibson.


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