Thursday, February 12, 2009

Poor Judd

Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) has withdrawn his name for nomination as Secretary of Commerce:

[I]t has become apparent during this process that this will not work for me as I have found that on issues such as the stimulus package and the Census there are irresolvable conflicts for me. Prior to accepting this post, we had discussed these and other potential differences, but unfortunately we did not adequately focus on these concerns. We are functioning from a different set of views on many critical items of policy.

Obviously the President requires a team that is fully supportive of all his initiatives.

I greatly admire President Obama and know our country will benefit from his leadership, but at this time I must withdraw my name from consideration for this position.

I’ll give him half a point for being gracious, but I can’t help but think there’s more to this than just “a different set of views.” After all, if the White House is to be believed, it was Sen. Gregg who reached out to the Obama administration to replace Bill Richardson:

“Senator Gregg reached out to the President and offered his name for Secretary of Commerce. He was very clear throughout the interviewing process that despite past disagreements about policies, he would support, embrace, and move forward with the President’s agenda. Once it became clear after his nomination that Senator Gregg was not going to be supporting some of President Obama’s key economic priorities, it became necessary for Senator Gregg and the Obama administration to part ways. We regret that he has had a change of heart”.

The White House sounds cranky, and they have a right to be. It’s not like Mr. Gregg didn’t know what he was getting into; that he walked into the West Wing and was shocked, shocked! to find liberals there. Not to mention the timing was coincidental with the president making an appearance in Peoria, Illinois, promoting the the stimulus bill. That’s just Bush-league.

Based on the chortling reaction from the right wing, they see this as a double-word score; they were chonked off at Mr. Gregg for daring to work with the Great Satan, and they are delighted at the deliberate slap in the face to the president. Josh Marshall speculates that Mr. Gregg caved in to the pressure from what’s left of the New Hampshire GOP.

The punditocracy will declare this yet another sign of the struggles of the amateurish Obama administration, but if you’re keeping score, it’s not as embarrassing as the debacle of John Tower’s nomination by George H.W. Bush, and so far it looks like the egg is on Mr. Gregg’s face, not the president’s.

But what the hell is it about getting a Commerce Secretary?