News out now is that Nancy Killefer, set to serve as President Obama's new chief performance officer — who was tasked with removing wasteful spending from the federal budget — has withdrawn her nomination because she didn't pay all of her taxes, either.

This is beyond the point of embarrassment for Obama and will become a late-night comedy line for the party as a whole, no matter what happens to the nomination of former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.).

As Daschle's confirmation as secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) hangs in the balance, and major newspapers call for him to withdraw, all eyes are on Obama — can he stomach rejecting a friend and loyal backer who literally helped put him where he is today? The web of Daschle and Obama connections is wide and thick; see The Washington Post today.

Daschle was an early and influential backer of Obama's, rallying when few in the party establishment believed Obama could take on the Clintons. All along, until Rahm Emanuel was named, Daschle was considered a top contender for chief of staff. He has been rewarded for his loyalty with not only the job of HHS secretary but as healthcare czar with an office in the West Wing.

Some believe Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner should have been held to a higher standard of the two who failed to pay taxes — that if either man were to be rejected, it should be the one who will oversee the IRS. Since he was confirmed, so would go Daschle. Then again, Daschle failed to pay considerably more in taxes than Geithner and probably isn't the last person who can help reform the healthcare system; and members of both parties seemed to have concluded that Geithner was the only choice for Treasury secretary under these new and dire circumstances.

That Daschle was willing to accept a gift of chauffeur and Cadillac at all, let alone fail to pay taxes on that gift, is quite a surprise. As a politician he was a very careful, disciplined player who didn't get caught in embarrassing situations or uncomfortable corners. There are other questions: about what exactly he did to earn those millions, if not lobbying the Congress, and just what he did for Leo Hindery, who gave him the driver and car.

It is hard to imagine Democratic senators voting against their former leader, even for those who voted against Geithner. It is even hard to imagine many Republicans casting a "no" vote against their former, truly well-liked colleague. But Daschle's problems are hard to explain away — not better because Geithner's were similar, but worse because he would become the second tax evader in a row to join Obama's Cabinet if he were confirmed.

Does Obama put Senate Democrats in this tough position, or does he accept that this one has to be his tough call?



IS OBAMA WALKING THE WALK AFTER ALL HIS CAMPAIGN TALK? Ask A.B. returns Monday, Feb. 9. Please join my weekly video Q&A by sending your questions and comments to askab@thehill.com. Thank you.