In a surprise Sen. Judd Gregg withdrew his name from consideration to be President Obama’s Secretary of Commerce. Gregg cited differences with the administration on the stimulus package as a reason for his withdrawal.
In a statement Gregg said, “However, it has become apparent during this process that this will not work for me as I have found that on issues such as the stimulus package and the Census there are irresolvable conflicts for me. Prior to accepting this post, we had discussed these and other potential differences, but unfortunately we did not adequately focus on these concerns. We are functioning from a different set of views on many critical items of policy. Obviously the President requires a team that is fully supportive of all his initiatives.”
This is a huge blow for Obama’s idea of a bipartisan cabinet. Apparently, the White House had little advance warning that this announcement was coming today. Little by little, Obama is being dragged back into partisan Washington politics. If Gregg could not support the Obama administration’s policies, then he did the correct thing by withdrawing from consideration. It makes one wonder if the new administration has not been too naïve in ignoring the role of partisanship in the cabinet appointment process.
Republicans are drawing the battle lines, by trying to know Obama down into the mud to brawl with them. The GOP’s best chance of standing up to the administration involves making issue as partisan as possible. It is not a coincidence that Republicans thrived in the environment of the past 15 years. They learned to win by dividing, which is what will make Obama’s goal of national political unity so difficult to accomplish. This is another day, when Obama’s message on the stimulus gets knocked off the front page by more cabinet troubles.