The Book of Ecclesiastes talks of change. “To everything there is a season,” it admonishes.

Bill Richardson’s decision to withdraw his name from consideration as the nation’s next Commerce secretary was the right thing to do. More importantly, it was the timely thing to do.

President-elect Barack Obama has raised the bar high in terms of ethics. His team and staff must reflect that credo, especially at a time when Americans put very little faith and trust in their instruments of government and elected officials. That healthy suspicion is good, and public officials should never forget to whom they answer.

Some have said and written that the Richardson vignette is another “pay-to-play” scandal that could begin to tar a nascent Obama administration. I disagree. Oh, reporters will try to draw parallels between the Illinois and New Mexico governors, but beyond the offices they hold, the two paths diverge noticeably.

Through my years of watching him, I’ve found Gov. Richardson to be a man of character. If the grand jury should uncover any criminal activity, I will still find his decision to bow out of the running honorable.

For me, it’s never about the individual, but rather the institution. At this critical moment in our nation’s history, we need even dishonorable men doing honorable things in order to preserve the integrity of the federal system and to restore the trust of her people.

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