Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009 | 2:06 a.m.
For nearly eight long years, this country suffered with a president, George W. Bush, who never admitted to making a mistake. His steadfast refusal to fess up to errors, including colossal failures of judgment in the handling of Iraq and Hurricane Katrina, led many Americans to distrust his administration.
It wasn’t until the closing weeks of his presidency, when Bush hit the media circuit in an effort to influence his legacy, that he at least hinted at misgivings over some of his actions in the Oval Office.
We are barely two weeks into President Barack Obama’s administration, but the new occupant of the White House has shown that he is willing to publicly admit when he is wrong.
Obama’s admission Tuesday came after he accepted the withdrawn nominations of Tom Daschle as health and human services secretary and Nancy Killefer as the federal government’s chief performance officer due to their failure to pay taxes in a timely fashion. Those problems — coupled with revelations of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s tax troubles — gave critics an opening to question the president’s high ethical standards, something he quickly realized.
Saying that he “screwed up” and would take responsibility for these mistakes, Obama said in a televised interview on NBC: “It’s important for this administration to send a message that there aren’t two sets of rules, you know — one for prominent people and one for ordinary folks who have to pay their taxes.”
Americans are a forgiving people, particularly when their leaders own up to their mistakes. With these distractions behind him, we believe Obama will be able to move forward with the important work that lies ahead.