- The Washington Times - Friday, February 13, 2009


New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg’s unexpected withdrawal from consideration as commerce secretary (the second nominee for that post to do so, following Gov. Bill Richardson) is yet another indication of how partisan and politically inept the administration of President Barack Obama has been in his cabinet selections.

Less than a week after securing Mr. Gregg as the third Republican in the cabinet, Team Obama suddenly figured out that it had put a Republican in direct control of next year’s U.S. Census (administered by the Commerce Department), with redistricting soon to follow. That, plus Mr. Gregg’s political gamesmanship in securing from the Democratic governor of his state a Republican nominee to fill his vacant seat once he accepted Mr. Obama’s cabinet invitation, was a clear indication that he was more than the White House could handle. The executive office’s grand scheme: Quietly move census control inside the White House to Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. No one is even sure if that is statutorily allowed, but it was certainly partisan enough to rile Republicans.

Two Utah representatives (very concerned because of how their state was shorted in the last census) dropped the dime on this brilliant plan. And Sen. Gregg, not to be outdone, played a masterful stroke. “It 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,” he said.

Not only has Mr. Obama’s second attempt to fill the Commerce post failed, but it laid bare the clear partisan liberal persona that he has tried desperately to disguise. This type of political theatre would be funny it it weren’t sad.

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