In withdrawing his name as nominee for Commerce Secretary, Judd Gregg helped provide a window both into the Obama Administration’s increased politicization (and subservience to left-wing interest groups) and into the reflexive attack mode of the Administration’s defenders (many of whom blame Gregg or Republicans for this embarrassment). It’s almost as if some of them (unlike Camille Paglia) can’t accept that “the One” could blunder. Any mistakes he makes must be attributed to someone else.
It’s not just that they can’t admit he could blunder, but that they assume all his actions must needs have only noble motives. Barack Obama, in their view, could never descend into the foul swamp of rank politics.
But, in tapping Judd Gregg for Commerce Secretary, he did just that. What other reason could there be to tap a Republican Senator from a Demorat-trending state with a Democratic Governor to his cabinet when that Republican had not shown great enthusiasm for that Department when in the Senate?
And, if the president had so trusted this Republican to administer a federal department, why did he remove one of that department’s primary programs from his jurisdiction?
Basically, this appointment was little more than a cynical political ploy to make the president look bipartisan by reaching out to a principled Senator from the opposing party. Yet, this is bipartisanship as window-dressing. True bipartisanship would have meant that you not just include members of both parties, not just consider the opinions of your ideological adversaries, but adapt your policies to reflect their concerns, tempering your own partisan edge.
By limiting Judd Gregg’s authority at the Commerce Department, the president was essentially saying he didn’t want to include his ideas in his Administration. He just wanted that (R) in his cabinet.
And he had hoped by having a Democratic governor pick Gregg’s Senate successor, he might tap a more malleable legislator. This was all about increasing Democratic power in Washington while appearing bi-partisan.