For Chavez, what goes around comes around

Politics: Labor nominee had no choice but to withdraw, but she can't cry foul too loudly.

January 10, 2001

LINDA CHAVEZ did the stand-up thing yesterday by stepping away from her nomination as secretary of labor.

Her confirmation was doomed by the ABC news revelation that she sheltered and gave money to an illegal immigrant who did household chores.

Her continued presence would have been a distraction to President-elect George W. Bush, who has other issues that need his attention. Now, Mr. Bush has a chance to pick someone who more closely resembles the administration he talked about during the campaign: a compassionate, govern-from-the-center team that doesn't include ideologues. His next nominee doesn't have to love labor unions or the workers they represent. But he or she shouldn't detest them, as Ms. Chavez's columns suggest she does.

As for Ms. Chavez, it was hard not to feel a bit sorry for her yesterday, as she bemoaned the "politics of personal destruction" that prompted her withdrawal.

She's right that there's too much of a "gotcha" atmosphere in Washington. And she's speaking the truth when she says it's driving good people away from public service.

A bit of advice is in order for her, though, given the extent to which she has contributed to the atmosphere of personal nastiness with her comments about Zoe Baird, the Clintons and others: If you can't take it, don't dish it out.

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