Tom Daschle: “regime change” extremist

On the heels of Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Barack Obama’s second formal appointment—former Sen. Tom Daschle for secretary of health and human services—appears to be another tilt to the neocons. The New York Times Nov. 20 notes potential conflicts of interest related to his work for the Mayo Clinic. But we recall his comments as Senate majority leader in which he advocated “regime change”—and not for Iraq, but for Palestine. And not against Hamas, but against Fatah and Arafat. We noted his extremist comments to Fox News interviewer Tony Snow in June 2002:

Daschle: I do think that it is important for us to be pushing for a regime change, speaking of that, in Palestine as well—in the Palestinian movement. And I think it is critical that we get help from our Arab allies. We’ve got to find somebody who can make decisions on a more constructive basis than what we’ve seen from Mr. Arafat.

Snow: Do you think our Arab allies are as fed up with Yasser Arafat as President Bush seems to be?

Daschle: Privately, Tony, they tell you they are. They are very concerned about the direction and the lack of leadership and the concern that they’ve got for the direction that the PLO is moving today. They’d like to see more constructive leadership, and our admonition to them is, “Help us get it.”

Snow: So in your opinion, Yasser Arafat needs to go?

Daschle: Well, my opinion, yes, sooner or later it has to happen.

Daschle also, of course, voted for the Iraq war. From CNN, Oct. 11, 2002:

Ahead of the vote, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle announced Thursday morning he would support Bush on Iraq, saying it is important for the country “to speak with one voice at this critical moment.”

Daschle, D-South Dakota, said the threat of Iraq’s weapons programs “may not be imminent. But it is real. It is growing. And it cannot be ignored.”

Admittedly, Daschle will have little opportunity to bring these views to bear in his new post. We can only hope that Obama put him there to placate the neocons—and keep him out of the way.

See our last posts on Barack Obama and the neocons.

  1. Peaceniks piqued at Clintonesque cabinet
    From the Los Angeles Times, Nov. 20:

    Antiwar groups fear Barack Obama may create hawkish Cabinet
    Activists note that most of the candidates for top security posts voted for the 2002 resolution authorizing President Bush to invade Iraq or otherwise supported launching the war.

    Antiwar groups and other liberal activists are increasingly concerned at signs that Barack Obama’s national security team will be dominated by appointees who favored the Iraq invasion and hold hawkish views on other important foreign policy issues.

    The activists are uneasy not only about signs that both Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates could be in the Obama Cabinet, but at reports suggesting that several other short-list candidates for top security posts backed the decision to go to war.

    “Obama ran his campaign around the idea the war was not legitimate, but it sends a very different message when you bring in people who supported the war from the beginning,” said Kelly Dougherty, executive director of the 54-chapter Iraq Veterans Against the War.


    Aside from Clinton and Gates, the roster of possible Cabinet secretaries has included Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), who both voted in 2002 for the resolution authorizing President Bush to invade Iraq, though Lugar has since said he regretted it.

    “It’s astonishing that not one of the 23 senators or 133 House members who voted against the war is in the mix,” said Sam Husseini of the liberal group Institute for Public Accuracy.