Washington Babylon — February 1, 2009, 10:51 am

Tom Daschle and the Old Boys’ Club

The Senate: shameless and clueless.

From the Washington Post:

Early reactions from the Senate have shown little need for much of a fight. No Senate Republican has stepped forward to criticize Daschle for what he said was an honest accounting mistake, while Democrats yesterday credited him for discovering the tax errors himself and taking the steps to correct them….

Daschle’s confirmation, once considered the easiest among President Obama’s Cabinet nominations, rests to some degree in his ability to rely on his old friends within an institution renowned for its clubby atmosphere. In the history of Cabinet confirmations, the Senate has voted down only one current or former colleague, John Tower (R-Tex.), and that came after the former senator was accused of excessive drinking and extramarital affairs during his 1989 confirmation hearings to be defense secretary.

Once Daschle left the Senate, after his 2004 defeat to Republican John Thune, he remained prominent in senatorial circles. Senate Democrats named the headquarters of their campaign committee after him, and in March 2005, on the day that he signed a $1 million-a-year contract to join InterMedia Advisers, a private equity firm, almost every Senate Democrat turned out to a 400-person party at the National Building Museum in Daschle’s honor.

Daschle has become a major financial backer of Democratic campaigns. Last year he wrote more than $40,000 worth of personal checks to benefit Senate candidates. He and his wife, Linda Hall Daschle, donated over the past two years to at least 14 senators who will be tasked with voting on his confirmation.

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Nobody in academia had ever witnessed or even heard of a performance like this before. In just a few years, in the early 1950s, a University of Pennsylvania graduate student — a student, in his twenties — had taken over an entire field of study, linguistics, and stood it on its head and hardened it from a spongy so-called “social science” into a real science, a hard science, and put his name on it: Noam Chomsky.

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