Friday, February 13, 2009

Gregg: Mr. President, I have some issues...

Senator Judd Gregg put on his partisan hat today and announced that he is withdrawing his name as the nominee for Secretary of Commerce. Really?

From WaPo: "It became clear to me to me that it would be very difficult day in and day out to serve in this Cabinet," Gregg said in a press conference late Thursday. He added that in the days since he was nominated he realized that to be "part of a team but not 100 percent with the team" was an untenable position.

Come on. Seriously? Barack Obama hasn't changed his position on the economic stimulus package, so I'm confused. What in the census would be worth quitting over?

The Republican talking point is that Gregg is putting principle over ambition. Did Gregg just grow a set of principles over the last couple of days? My problem with this whole thing is nothing has really changed but Gregg. Was he too awe-stuck to ask questions before? Was he tongue-tied? Or was it that the Obama administration made it clear that the American people would be the first priority, NOT business. Maybe that was the sticking point. Being Secretary of Commerce and putting the American people first would be a terrible conflict in the eyes of a Republican.

I wonder if this was all a ploy to make the new president look bad. Another cabinet post bites the dust. This is Obama's third appointment requiring replacement (Daschle, Richardson). Or was this a local problem? There were some reports out of New Hampshire that Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes was looking very strong for 2010. I know I'm dwelling on bad motives, but sudden moves like this make me very suspicious.

I found this interesting -
Judd Gregg last week on the Obama fiscal boost plan:
We need a robust [bill]. I think the one that's pending is in the range we need. I do believe it's a good idea to do it at two levels, which this bill basically does, which is immediate stimulus and long-term initiatives which actually improve our competitiveness and our productivity.

Judd Gregg today:
Republican Sen. Judd Gregg is putting a final exclamation point on his withdrawal as Barack Obama's designee for Commerce Secretary with a promise to vote against the president's economic stimulus package. Gregg's office confirmed the decision Friday.

Gregg waffled on this reason for pulling out of the Obama Cabinet today, saying that it really wasn't about the census after all.
But in an interview with CNBC today, Gregg suggested that the census procedures weren’t much of an issue to him. “The way it was explained to me is that the Census would still report to the Commerce Secretary, but the White House wanted to have a major interest in the census process also,” he said. Gregg even praised the White House:
GREGG: The person that the White House has proposed to manage the Census, Ken Pruitt, did it in 2000 when I was chairman of the Appropriations Committee that had oversight over Commerce Dept. And I thought he did an excellent job. So I thought the people were going to be in place to do a pretty good census.

So, can you make any sense out of this?

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