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Free passes for the cabinet?

Hillary Clinton’s husband accepted donations from foreign interests (again!) which could create a conflict of interest in her work as America’s chief diplomat (and are rewriting ethics laws). Yet her nomination as Secretary of State was overwhelmingly approved this afternoon.

Timothy Geithner looks to be headed for the same success in his bid to be Treasury Secretary – despite a track record which shows he is at worst a tax cheat and at best careless about details.

Politically speaking, the Republicans were right to give Clinton a pass – to hold up her nomination would have cast the image of a party fighting the same battles it did in 1998. But polls suggest Senate Republicans should think again about a second rubber stamp to Geithnerthe American people are dead even on whether or not he should be approved.

Fiscal policy is going to be a critical battleground over the next two years, and Geithner’s confirmation hearings offer Republicans a way to score an early victory – and, equally important, a chance to demonstrate that Team Obama does not own a monopoly on the concept of transparent, open government.

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