Judd Gregg is gone as Obama’s commerce secretary under a cloud of partisanship and muddy, diversionary explanations.
I really am all for bipartisanship. The stimulus bill made its way through the sausage factory that is lawmaking, and it came out the other side about right (with a major exception made for the $70 billion AMT fix which has literally nothing to do with stimulus.) It’s $700 billion dollars of programs and tax cuts that are, by and large, good policy and stimulative. The flashpoints were extinguished and some things — in particular direct aid to the states — got watered down, but this is a bill that most of America can live with, even if only 3 GOP votes will help it pass.
The Democrats — from Pelosi to Reid to Obama — all look like adults, and the rest of the GOP seem as petulant as toddlers who’ve just learned how to scream “NO!”
The Gregg pick, on the other hand, was bipartisan symbolism. Tokenism. And, for the Democrats, a damaging sort of tokenism. It’s baffling to me why, when the party is seen (quite wrongheadedly I should add) as anti-business and soft on national security, its presidents seem to relish reinforcing that misperception by appointing Republicans to head up departments like Commerce and Defense. It’s just dumb politics.
Especially for a quasi-ambassadorial post like Commerce, why not appoint some Democratic high roller — an entrepreneur and venture capitalist like John Doerr, for example — who speaks to the innovation we desperately need in this economy, and embodies a risk-taking, over-the-horizon, decidedly Blue-state economic ethos.
You don’t need a stodgy old fart like Gregg in the cabinet room.
Nobody’s going to give Obama credit for bipartisanship just because a New Hampshire Republican is filling a chair there — any more than they gave Bush credit for perching Democrat Norm Mineta at Transportation.
Shed no tears over this one, folks.