Commentary Magazine


Bait and Switch

Judd Gregg says that two issues forced him to change his mind and withdraw his name for consideration as Secretary of Commerce: the stimulus bill now being hammered out between House Democrats and Senate Democrats, and Obama’s plan to  move the oversight of the Census out from the Department of Commerce to some political hack at the White House.

The stimulus bill is bad enough. But the real slap in the face has to be over the Census move.

Here the calendar becomes instructive: Gregg’s nomination came out on February 2. Obama’s plan for the Census came out February 6. And Gregg officially withdrew on February 12.

Here’s a plausible description of what happened: Gregg took the nomination without knowing fully about the Census  plan, which would rob him of what was possibly his biggest responsibility. He was all set to bite his tongue and go along with most of Obama’s policies — until he heard that Obama was going to circumvent the office while Gregg was sitting in it. Gregg tried to quietly dissuade Obama’s people from going forward with the Census plan. When it became clear that he wasn’t going to win that fight, he chose to not accept the job after all.

So much for “no drama Obama.” For once, Obama found a nominee with no tax issues or legal/ethical concerns, and he just said “thanks, but no thanks.”

I have a suggestion: have Joe Biden resign and serve as Commerce Secretary. Once the census has been taken away, the Secretary has very little to do, and has almost as little power as the Vice-President.