The battle over the Porkulus bill has claimed another victim, and one which will send some larger ripples across the political pool. New Hampshire Republican Senator Judd Gregg, selected by President Obama as our next Secretary of Commerce, has taken himself out of the running. Citing “irresolvable conflicts over the stimulus package and control of the 2010 census” the Senator has withdrawn. Gregg represented one of the chief areas of the President’s efforts to build a bipartisan or “postpartisan” cabinet and theory of government. From Chris Cillizza:
Gregg abstained from the Senate vote on the stimulus package, which passed the chamber 61 to 37. He had not previously offered any public comment on the White House’s plan to have the Census director report to White House officials. Many Republicans, however, had voiced serious concerns about the potential politicization of the department given that move.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) praised Gregg’s decision as “principled” and added: “It’s great to have him back.”
At this point, the pickings may be slim for Obama to find a high profile Republican to serve in his cabinet, and the stimulus package will likely be the defining barrier to building that type of coalition. This concept was actually one of the serious hopes I had for the Obama administration, but as the days wind on it looks less and less likely to me. Democratic Congressional leadership will likely leave Obama with no options but to watch his own party use their dominant majorities to rifle through whatever is on their agenda. The loss of Gregg is only the latest symptom of the problem.
UPDATE: This makes three failed nominations, tying Obama with Bill Clinton. Will he manage to reach Tyler’s record after all?