This commentary post originally appeared in The Charlotte Observer's 'The Daily Views' blog.
"This was a mistake. I screwed up."
That's what President Obama said Tuesday about having pushed for former Sen. Tom Daschle as secretary of health and human services despite Daschle's not having paid some $140,000 in income taxes and some other ethically challenged actions.
"I've got to own up to my mistake, which is that ultimately it's important for this administration to send a message that there aren't two sets of rules," Obama said. "You know, one for prominent people and one for ordinary folks who have to pay their taxes."
Remember that April 2004 news conference in which then-President Bush said he couldn't think of any mistakes he had made in combating terrorism or conducting war in Iraq?
At least, with Obama – the guy who promised probably more change than he can deliver – one thing has changed. The man will 'fess up now and again.
Let us hope this attitude lasts. Voters are more likely to respect someone who will honestly say, "I goofed," than someone who insists he was right all along.
Note: In his final news conference Bush did admit to numerous errors. It probably didn't cost him any respect and may well have gained him some. After all, any president is going to make mistakes along the way, and most of us understand that. Just be big enough, when you make one, to admit it and move on.