President Daschle?


the kennedy brothers.jpg
I’ve always been intrigued with political franchises.
I used to study the crime bosses of Chicago and the political/criminal bosses of Japan. I met former Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka once before his stroke and knew fairly well such interesting political warlords in Japan such as Michio Watanabe, Shin Kanemaru, Ryutaro Hashimoto, Ichiro Ozawa, Susumu Nikaido, Kiichi Miyazawa, Yasuhiro Nakasone, Koichi Hamada, Rokusuke Tanaka and others. Most of these folks were real kingpins.
Family franchises in politics are even more interesting. Taro Aso — the grandson of well-known post-WWII Japanese prime minister Shigeru Yoshida — may be on the verge of becoming Japan’s next prime minister. He has built power more by cajoling friends and building alliances rather than through political muscle and the discipline created by hard cash, but he still clearly always was a political crown prince. I had the privilege of knowing Aso’s tough as nails mother, Kazuko Aso, and one of his sisters quite well.
But back to the U.S., I just received a Democratic Governors Association note from Nathan Daschle, who is Executive Director of the DGA. His note came titled “The Next Big Thing: Project 2010” and pushed the new blog that the DGA has launched.
I really like Tom Daschle, Nathan’s father. My former boss Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) was one of the first to support Daschle in his bid to become Democratic leader in the Senate — and I often had a front row seat of his excellent mastery of the complex task of managing a bit less than five dozen and a bit more than four dozen US Senators.
To some degree it is really Tom Daschle’s political machine that has been more important to Barack Obama than franchises controlled by the Daley clan, the Kennedy family, and the Clintons. Daschle’s people are the ones who have animated and built out Barack Obama’s incredible national operation.
And while Tom Daschle may not ever get the chance to serve as President of the United States — though i think he would have made a great president — I suspect that Daschle will bring some muscle and great skill to either the White House as Chief of Staff or to Obama’s cabinet (if elected) as Secretary of Health and Human Services.

While Hillary Clinton really does know the nuts and bolts of a rebuilt and redeployed health care policy system, Tom Daschle does as well and may be the person who actually does deliver real, universal health care in the United States. I discuss health policy with former Senate Majority Leader and Obama Campaign co-chair Tom Daschle in the short clip above. A longer meeting at which Daschle spoke on the subject can be watched here.
Nathan Daschle The Washington Note TWN.jpgBut what about the son, Nathan Daschle?
Well, Nathan, son of Tom, writes a snazzy letter, married well and got covered in Washington Life. If he thinks now about keeping his eye on good public policy, staying out of financial trouble, not taking short cuts, and learning how not to let minor squabbles and differences with others distract from the battles really worth fighting, Nathan Daschle could be one of the names you see considered for high office down the road.
Here is a profile of the 34 year-old Nathan that ran in Washingtonian Magazine two years ago:

Word is that Daschle, the new general counsel to the Democratic Governors Association, would be on the fast track to legal stardom even if his father weren’t former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle. Besides that, the young Daschle didn’t have an ordinary childhood–he was written up as a nine-year-old for finding Vice President George Bush’s glasses at the Rayburn Building pool. His mother is Laurie Fulton, a top partner at Williams & Connolly.
A graduate of Harvard Law School, Daschle worked for the Natural Resources Defense Council before joining the litigation department of Covington & Burling. After trying just one case, which he won, Daschle left Covington last June to become general counsel and policy director of the governors group.
Working at the intersection of law and politics puts Daschle in a position to influence politics for some time. Republicans who worked hard to pitch his father out of office may not find comfort in the rise of another Daschle, who might prove equally formidable.

Nathan Daschle, and his dad, will no doubt email me that this was an over the top blog post and will express surprise and dismay to friends and co-workers. They have to do that. Humility is key in town, spiced up with confidence and competence.
But I read the young Daschle’s letter, and it came with no fanfare or indulgent line like “as the son of Tom Daschle, I am writing to. . .” It was a good, motivating note that let a lot of the political and policy class know that Nathan Daschle is increasingly becoming a name with which we should all become a bit more familiar.
This is just the way the system works — whether it should or not. So, you heard it here. I suspect Nathan Daschle may very well run for the highest office in the land some day. Despite the fact that I know little directly about him, I see nuances here of someone solid — and I like what I see so far, which is the beginning of political machine building.
To some degree, it’s a lot more fun speculating about the country’s leadership far down the road than it is writing about the same small cast of characters we now see around Obama and McCain every day from now until November 4th.
In fact, I bet TWN readers can think of some other potential presidential challengers down the road too. Feel free to record your thoughts below, but remember to be civil. (thanks)
And also remember to check out the DGA’s Project 2010 Blog. . .which is the real reason I got to have some fun with this subject.
— Steve Clemons


15 comments on “President Daschle?

  1. kovie says:

    Tom Daschle seems like a nice, smart, well-meaning guy. I imagine that he actually is one. But he doesn’t have the instincts or nature of a street-level fighter, which is what you want in both a majority leader and WH chief of staff. And we all know how utterly miserable he was in the run up to the war, urging his colleagues to not resist it for purely political reasons, so as to avoid big electoral losses and live to fight another day, for issues that mattered to Dems.
    And what resulted from that? The worst foreign policy decision in US history, absolutely zero political gain or legislative accomplishments, and big political losses in that and the following election–including to Daschle himself. You literally could not pick a worse person to lead the Democrats at a time like this, against an opponent as vicious and despicable as today’s GOP. He is another tired old go along to get along Dem in the Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi mold, and Obama would make a big mistake in picking him to be his chief of staff. Top informal policy advisor, sure, why not. But actually running the WH staff and its policy machine–sheer idiocy.
    Unless, of course, Obama doesn’t want to fight the GOP and the special interests that own it, and is just their smarter, smoother, hipper flip side. Which his FISA flip-flop kind of indicated.
    Sorry, I’m just sick of these professional political operatives–both elected and not–basically trading places every few years, while the rest of the country and world get deeper and deeper in the hole. Daschle is such an operative. To deny that would be delusional.


  2. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, Steve, perhaps you will be so good as to fill us in on what efforts Tom Daschle made to rein in the Bush Administration, hold them accountable, or be honest with his constituency about the gravity of Bush’s criminal actions.
    Bear in mind, any silence you may employ in responding to this query says more about Tom Daschle than an actual comment would.
    In all honesty, I cannot knowledgebly comment on Daschle’s son’s level of integrity. Considering his youth I must assume he still has a vestige left. But I must also consider his father’s long history of willingly standing elbow to elbow with the scum of the earth, and I find it hard to believe such associations don’t taint the character of the offspring of such willing participants in the day to day bloodletting that politics has become.


  3. MarkL says:

    Daschle failed the Republic at one of its greatest tests, in 2002 and 2003.
    The Democrats are often accused of being Chamberlains; well, Daschle WAS an appeaser to the Republicans.
    The fact that he and the other big losers of the Democrat Party—Durbin, Kerry, Kennedy—is one of the strongest reasons to distrust Obama.
    With people like Daschle behind him, I don’t expect Obama to stand up to a wet noodle if he’s President—as long as the noodle has an (R) attached to it.


  4. Steve Clemons says:

    Given what has happened to the country POA — I really do understand your cynicism. I often feel the same — but not about the elder or younger Daschle.
    best regards,


  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Just another up and coming posturing politico, who, if possessing any integrity, will find it to be a liability if he expects to rise in the ranks of the Washington elite.
    The truly successful politicians are the ones that became bloodsuckin’ ticks at an early age. Young Daschle has had a suitable mentor in his father.
    If one is looking for hope in the future, the writhing mass of snakes that comprise the ranks of the established Washington elitist families is hardly the place to look.


  6. Dumass says:

    “After trying just one case, which he won, Daschle left Covington last June to become general counsel and policy director of the governors group.”


  7. jonst says:

    Daschle, a good, talented, and decent man, in normal times, as far as I can tell– would be the poster child in a campaign to explain to Americans why he, and Democrats, lose elections. When there is a narrow, relatively speaking, partisan divide, it is a good and necessary thing to ‘reach out to the other side. But when one side of the divide is constantly, and swiftly, moving to extreme positions, it is political, intellectual, and moral, suicide to keep trying to reach out. And in doing so drag yourself towards the positions of the extremists. Daschle and Dems should be reminded of the words of Lincoln in his Cooper-Union Speech
    >>>>>>>Will they be satisfied if the Territories be unconditionally surrendered to them? We know they will not. In all their present complaints against us, the Territories are scarcely mentioned. Invasions and insurrections are the rage now. Will it satisfy them, if, in the future, we have nothing to do with invasions and insurrections? We know it will not. We so know, because we know we never had anything to do with invasions and insurrections; and yet this total abstaining does not exempt us from the charge and the denunciation.
    The question recurs, what will satisfy them? Simply this: We must not only let them alone, but we must somehow, convince them that we do let them alone. This, we know by experience, is no easy task. We have been so trying to convince them from the very beginning of our organization, but with no success. In all our platforms and speeches we have constantly protested our purpose to let them alone; but this has had no tendency to convince them. Alike unavailing to convince them, is the fact that they have never detected a man of us in any attempt to disturb them.
    These natural, and apparently adequate means all failing, what will convince them? This, and this only: cease to call slavery wrong, and join them in calling it right. And this must be done thoroughly – done in acts as well as in words. Silence will not be tolerated – we must place ourselves avowedly with them. Senator Douglas’ new sedition law must be enacted and enforced, suppressing all declarations that slavery is wrong, whether made in politics, in presses, in pulpits, or in private. We must arrest and return their fugitive slaves with greedy pleasure. We must pull down our Free State constitutions. The whole atmosphere must be disinfected from all taint of opposition to slavery, before they will cease to believe that all their troubles proceed from us.
    I am quite aware they do not state their case precisely in this way. Most of them would probably say to us, “Let us alone, do nothing to us, and say what you please about slavery.” But we do let them alone – have never disturbed them – so that, after all, it is what we say, which dissatisfies them. They will continue to accuse us of doing, until we cease saying.<<<<<<
    For “slavery” substitute monarchy, ‘preemptive’ wars,torture, illegal detention, utter disregard of congressional subpoenas, dismissal of the protections offered under the 4th and 5th amendments, and so forth. They want us to admit evangelicals are right. Confess our sins, and come over to their side. Nothing short of that will satisfy them. “Them” being, of course, not all Republicans, just the insane and irrational bunch that have captured the Party this past week.


  8. Bill R. says:

    I’m betting on Daschle as Chief of Staff. I like the comparison with James Baker, who made the first Reagan term a good one. I think Hillary Clinton will be the health care czar as head of HHS.


  9. Mr.Murder says:

    His dad voted for this wonderful war in Iraq. That should disqualify his holding future office.
    End the monarchy.
    It’s okay though. His mom is one of the biggest security contractors on the planet. He can always find work for McDonnel-Douglass, Pratt Whitney, etc.


  10. eberit says:

    I love the substantive subject matters that Steve brings to us and usually I just read the comments without comment as it all is such an education for me. Lately (and I assume due to the convention season) certain entities have interjected themselves onto this venue much to the detriment (sp?) of civilized discourse.
    This was an, especially for me, interesting posting and before you know it….they’re back.
    Please, all the regulars, don’t go there and bite.


  11. Matt says:

    Republicans should stop hiring hacks to troll
    political websites.– Some Guy


  12. jackie says:

    The photo of the Kennedy’s really took me back in time.
    I know you have been busy lately, but speaking of photos, where have Annie and Oakley been lately?


  13. Karl says:

    I think Tom Daschle is Obama’s James Baker.
    Podesta will likely be tapped as Chief of Staff for the first few years to ensure a smooth transition and I think Daschle will get to spearhead health care reform efforts. Then probably after the 2010 midterms I think Podesta will go back to CAP and Daschle would be a prime contender to take over as CoS and then maybe State or Treasury in the second term (if we get there of course). He will no doubt have a big say in shaping Obama’s Administration (again if we get there).
    As for Nathan Daschle. I think your getting ahead of yourself a bit here. I don’t think he is going to be running for president or any type of public office any time soon. I think he will follow a path closer to the one Cecile Richards has taken, founding and heading up powerful advocacy groups, maybe serving as a powerful congressional staffer or in the cabinent but he doesn’t seem to be taking the kind of steps you take if you are planning to run for office.
    As for a future president? I think NM State Auditor Hector Balderas has a bright future, he’s a former state legislator, great family, Hispanic, young (35). I think he could be the first Hispanic president.


  14. Zathras says:

    Just in case it slips the Daschles’ respective minds, I thought I’d say that was an over-the-top blog post. I suspect even Oakley knows there are ways to acknowledge people pleasantly without slobbering all over them.
    It does suggest how completely the legal profession dominates the Democratic Party. Here’s another suggestion along those lines: does anyone know the year the Democrats last ran candidates for President and Vice President both of whom had not gone through law school?


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