Thursday, February 12, 2009

Republican Judd Gregg withdraws from the Obama cabinet

Hmmm...this isn't really all that surprising...

"Saying, 'I made a mistake,' Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire abruptly withdrew as commerce secretary nominee on Thursday and drew a testy reaction from the White House, suddenly coping with the third Cabinet withdrawal of Barack Obama's young presidency.
Gregg cited 'irresolvable conflicts' with Obama's handling of the economic stimulus and 2010 census in a statement released without warning by his Senate office.
Later, at a news conference in the Capitol, he sounded more contrite.
'The president asked me to do it,' he said of the job offer. 'I said, 'Yes.' That was my mistake.'

Yeah, I think Gregg did make a big mistake in trying out for that position. He should have known better than to trust the Democrats. However, at least he figured that out before he took the office.

"Obama offered a somewhat different account from Gregg.
'It comes as something of a surprise, because the truth, you know, Mr. Gregg approached us with interest and seemed enthusiastic,' Obama said in an interview with the Springfield (Ill.) Journal-Register. 'But ultimately, I think, we're going to just keep on making efforts to build the kind of bipartisan consensus around important issues that I think the American people are looking for.'

Let's face it, both sides got their hands caught in the cookie jar. My guess is that Obamessiah wanted a Republican and asked Gregg, and the latter was eager for it. Think about it. It's a position that's guaranteed for four years, whereas Gregg could have been knocked out of the Senate in 2010. I also think Gregg was being a bit naive in thinking that his opinion would be genuinely accepted by the Chosen One's administration. It's obvious that Obama would not trust him with any real power after he decided to take over the Census, which clearly falls under the Commerce Department. If Obama can't trust Gregg with that, then I would say that he's absolutely not interested in any kind of bipartisanship and the Democrats need to abandon this nonsense once and for all.

"White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said once it became clear Gregg was not going to support some of Obama's top economic priorities, it became necessary for Gregg and the administration 'to part ways,' Gibbs said. 'We regret that he has had a change of heart.'
Gregg said he'd always been a strong fiscal conservative. 'It really wasn't a good pick.' When the Senate voted on the president's massive stimulus plan earlier this week, Gregg did not vote. The bill passed with all Democratic votes and just three Republican votes.
The unexpected withdrawal marked the latest setback for Obama in his attempt to build a Cabinet. It came as the new president expended political capital in Washington — and around the country — for his economic package

Ok, so reading between the lines seems that Gregg had some serious issues with the way Obama was handling the situation, and was vocal about it. Far from getting the pliant yes-man, the Obama administration decided to get rid of him. As I said before, though Gregg said it wasn't a great pairing, he should have known better. As soon as this stimulus package was underway, Gregg, a fiscal conservative, should have seen the financial handwriting on the wall. I would hardly say it was unexpected. Gregg's position as Commerce Sercretary would have had little actual power.

Nor am I sure that it was a real setback for Obama. I truly believe people keep underestimating this individual (and yes, I have all sorts of pet names for him). Let's go through the list of people that have gone against him, either directly or indirectly through the campaign and now. First, there was Clinton and Biden. Both of them are moderate in the sense that they were not left wing loonies. Obama showed some craftiness by adding them to his administration. Instead of having a potential moderate enemy in the Senate in Joe Biden, he's been relegated to Vice-President, a position that has little real value in and of itself. The Democrats have enough control of the Senate that his tiebreaker ability should not come into play for at least two years. His Senate position is now under his aide, Edward Kaufman, who is 69 and has no desire to continue after two years. That means that the seat (which will probably but not certainly go to a Democrat) could be replaced with a freshman more pliable to Obama's wishes.

Hillary Clinton left her Senate position to become the Secretary of State. It was clear that Obama wanted Caroline Kennedy to replace Clinton. That meant that a very pro-Obama senator would have replaced a lukewarm supporter. However, Governor David Patterson nixed that because he absolutely did not want Kennedy as Senator (which surprised me because I didn't think Patterson had the balls for that kind of confrontation). Instead, the governor chose Kirsten Gillibrand, a relative centrist, for the position. Although Gillibrand won both of her elections fairly handily (53%-47% in 2006 and 62%-38% in 2008) as a Representative, she has two years to make a name for herself as a Senator. A much more left-leaning Representative, Carolyn McCarthy, has voiced desires of taking that Senate seat. McCarthy, a Representative since 1997, has also won big in all of her elections. This would set up an interesting Democratic primary in 2010 should McCarthy opt to face off against Gillibrand. Given New York State's penchant for liberals, McCarthy could get in and become a much more reliable supporter of Obama.

This leads to Judd Gregg. As this article states, Gregg probably will not run in 2010. This means that another Republican Senate seat is vulnerable to Democrats (and New Hampshire isn't exactly a red state either). This means that at least three seats can be given to very liberal Democrats in two years, if everything falls into place.

Is this paranoia? Perhaps, but let's look at the situation. Obama is clearly a leftist, as is the Pelosi-run House. Getting the votes for whatever Obama wants will not be a problem there (although getting more leftists over Blue Dogs will unquestionably help). The question is the Senate, with the filibuster rule. Right now, the Democrats are teetering on a filibuster-proof Senate in two years. The more moderate Senators that are kicked out and replaced with freshmen (and perhaps more liberal), the better for Obama, particularly if he wins in 2012 (horrors of horrors).

Is it at least possible that there is some sort of game plan by the Obama administration in particular and the radical portion of the Democratic Party in general for consolidating their already considerable power base for the future? I think it foolish to dismiss it out of hand. After all, the Democrats are on the verge of passing a stimulus package that is loaded with leftist goodies and it gained virtually all of their party's support. The Republicans need to be absolutely on their guard and have to rebuild very quickly if they want to stop this. Let us hope that RNC Chairman Michael Steele is up to the challenge.

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