The White House, clearly stung and surprised by Judd Gregg’s withdrawal, has decided the best defense is an offense. Or rather, to be offensive. So in the true spirit of non-bipartisanship and non-civility, they slap Gregg back, declaring:
He was very clear throughout the interviewing process that despite past disagreements about policies, he would support, embrace, and move forward with the President’s agenda. Once it became clear after his nomination that Senator Gregg was not going to be supporting some of President Obama’s key economic priorities, it became necessary for Senator Gregg and the Obama administration to part ways.
Sure, they can try to blame Gregg. (Are they going to call him “erratic,” as when they slurred McCain in the campaign?) Still, the sequence of events, the Washington Post tells us, reveals that actually the Obama administration knew this was coming several days ago but failed to “take better control of the situation, instead of waiting for the news to detonate and then issuing a statement that looked peeved and churlish as it insisted that Mr. Gregg had come calling for the job, and not the reverse.”
Despite the lame spin, the facts have a way of dribbling out. Apparently taking the Census oversight away from Commerce and putting it in the White House was seen as a slight and the decision to shut Republicans out of the stimulus negotiations didn’t sit well with Gregg either. The excessive partisan fury in the White House was too much for Gregg to bear.
None of this makes the White House look any better. Even the most enthusiastic boosters spot the obvious:
Which is to say that “bipartisan,” in the White House definition, is an extension of the campaign’s “new politics”: It doesn’t mean you make friends with the other side, or play nice.
The bottom line: this is another executive management debacle, which if isolated, would be no big deal. That it is part of an emerging pattern of questionable judgment, poor execution and destructive partisanship suggests there is something seriously out of whack in the White House. The country clearly was looking for a less partisan tone and more competency in governance. Unfortunately, they are getting neither — a reality which becomes harder to conceal each day.