Tim Geithner was confirmed as Treasury secretary by a 60 to 34 vote in the Senate last night. Because 30 of the 34 senators who opposed him were Republicans and 50 of the 60 who supported him were Democrats, Politico declares that the vote signifies that "partisanship is officially back."
But, if anything, this vote shows that Republicans are pretty weak partisans. One of the 10 GOP senators to vote for Geithner was John Cornyn--the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the GOP's Senate campaign arm. Apparently, Cornyn believed he had to give Geithner the "benefit of the doubt" on the issue of his unpaid taxes. Can you imagine Cornyn's counterpart Chuck Schumer giving the benefit of the doubt to a GOP appointment in a similar situation? Appointing and confirming a cabinet member who broke the law strikes many as unjust--a perfect example of Washington politicians playing by their own rules. This is the kind of thing that the party out of power runs against every election.
If Cornyn really wasn't convinced that Geithner cheated on his taxes, perhaps he should be applauded for putting principle over party. But anyone who's followed the case, especially Byron York's excellent coverage, would find it hard to believe that Geithner didn't knowingly fail to pay his taxes.