Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death: Good Riddance

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Good Riddance

Last week I started writing a post called "No on Gregg for Commerce." Here was Judd Gregg, a guy in the Senate--a Republican from New Hampshire--who wanted to join Obama's economic team as secretary of commerce but who wasn't willing to vote for Obama's stimulus in Congress (apparently he thought that simply not voting against it was a strong enough stand to take). When his nomination was announced, Gregg said, "This is not a time for partisanship. This is not a time when we should stand in our ideological corners and shout at each other. This a time to govern, and govern well." It turns out, though, that upon reflection, Gregg has realized that that is exactly what this is time for. I couldn't be more pleased.

Today, making reference to "irresolvable conflicts" between Obama's policies and himself, Gregg pulled out. The question must be asked, though, what was resolvable last week that suddenly became irresolvable this week? Was Gregg hoping that, with the threat of a Republican filibuster (which, by not allowing his vote to become one of 60 necessary to overcome it, he was tacitly approving), he'd be able to help pick up the pieces and develop more Republican-friendly policies? The Commerce Department also has responsibility for the ten-year census, and Republicans certainly wanted to get their hands on that. The administration has said that the director of the census would report to the White House rather than the secretary of commerce, and that might have been a deal breaker. But surely Gregg would've clarified what was going on with the census before he agreed to join the team, wouldn't he?

Although there's some talk that this might be embarrassing for the administration (Gregg's the second potential commerce secretary who's pulled out, and the third potential cabinet member), I think that this might be the best thing for everybody. The White House said that Gregg had volunteered for the job. That means that Obama has had a chance to see what happens when he offers his own hand in bipartisanship only to see it slapped away, and now he's seen what happens when a Republican apparently offers his own hand, only to withdraw it after winning the president's confidence. If this is what bipartisanship looks like in the 21st century, then it's vastly overrated.


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