WaPo: Obama administration “peeved and churlish” over Gregg

posted at 1:50 pm on February 13, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

The editorial board of the Washington Post expressed some puzzlement over the White House’s handling of Judd Gregg’s withdrawal as Commerce Secretary yesterday.  After giving Gregg high marks for generously accepting the blame for the mismatch of his appointment, Robert Gibbs and Barack Obama appeared to go out of their way to be as ungracious as possible.  Could they be afraid that Gregg’s withdrawal will expose an effort to politicize the Census?

There was something appealingly human in Mr. Gregg’s explanation of his change of heart. He said that he had been seduced by the euphoria of a new job in a new administration but came to realize that after 30 years of working independently and making decisions himself, he couldn’t be a part of a team. “I said yes. That was my mistake,” Mr. Gregg said at a late-afternoon news conference. “I did not handle this the way I usually handle issues, which is definitively and quickly.” Better he did so now.

There will be plenty of questions about both sides of this collapsed merger. Mr. Obama has been clear on what he wanted in the stimulus package since the November election; nothing there could have come as a surprise to Mr. Gregg. On the other hand, Mr. Gregg’s concern about potential changes at the Census Bureau, particularly news that the census director would report to the White House instead of the commerce secretary, are understandable: Either this administration trusts me or it does not, he might fairly have felt.

For the Obama administration, Mr. Gregg’s withdrawal represents another bump at a particularly unhelpful time. Mr. Gregg said yesterday that he had told the White House several days ago of his decision. If so, you have to wonder why the administration did not 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.

Here’s Barack Obama being a little “peeved and churlish” while talking about Lincoln:

The Obama administration wants to portray Gregg as a Judas who betrayed the One, but that’s only going to sell to the true believers. Even if Gregg did come to them, one has to ask what it was that convinced Gregg that the effort was no longer worth it.  Gregg had no particular reason to hearken to Senate Republicans, especially since he’s apparently decided that he will end his public career at the end of this Senate term.  Why not stay at Commerce?

The reason is because it became increasingly apparent that Obama wanted him only as window dressing.  The Democrats made no effort to work with Republicans in any substantive manner on the stimulus bill, which would become one of Gregg’s main responsibilities after passage.  His own ideas had largely been ignored; even if the broad outlines were known before his acceptance of the position, which is certainly true, Gregg may have expected Obama and the Democrats to welcome more input into the final product.  After all, if they didn’t want that, why have him on board at all?

From a couple of sources around Capitol Hill, I’ve gotten the sense that the effort by Rahm Emanuel to strip the Census from Gregg was just the final straw and not the prime motivator behind his decision. It rendered Gregg even more of a political eunuch than the lockout on the stimulus plan, and underscored the fact that even as a Cabinet member, he would not have inside status with the Obama administration.   Gregg would get trotted out as the Bipartisan Pony when Obama needed a beard.  Some of us predicted just that when he accepted the position, and Gregg found out the hard way that he never should have done so.

The Post’s editorial board correctly notes that the Obama White House looked very poor in this instance.  Gregg told them in advance that he would leave, and yet they got caught flat-footed at the announcement.  Instead of presenting a calm and rational reaction, they looked petty and unprepared, while Obama gave a Snarker-in-Chief performance at a non-political event.  Bad form, and once again, the Obama adminstration got exposed as amateurish and out of their depth.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

How could Judd be so naive/stupid about his position in the cabinet? This is how the Chicago Way is played and has been played for at least the seven decades of which I have been aware of the Way. Why would he expect anything different from the Elmer Gantry President. Judd’s actions are so irresponsible that they could be construed as a planned embarrassment at this point.

burt on February 13, 2009 at 4:19 PM

At 1:03 it looked as if he was about to throw out another 1 finger salute but caught himself.

mike_NC9 on February 13, 2009 at 4:26 PM

Only 24 days and the Obamastration provides yet another (daily) example of its ineptitude! It has become perfectly clear to anyone paying attention (particularly our foreign enemies) that the Obamastration has no clue what their doing in the White House. May God have mercy on our nation.

bmac727 on February 13, 2009 at 4:27 PM

Of course they’re peeved and churlish! The One says his staff is tired!

*sniffle*

PattyJ on February 13, 2009 at 4:36 PM

WaPo: Obama administration “peeved and churlish” over Gregg just about everything.

Also inept, dishonest and incompetent.

Oldnuke on February 13, 2009 at 4:49 PM

Just how much can the White House manipulate the Census?

Ares on February 13, 2009 at 5:14 PM

Remarkably immature.

Rockygold on February 13, 2009 at 5:15 PM

I dislike Obama as President as much as (nearly) anyone on here. However, that clip about Lincoln and Sec of Commerce sounds more like self-deprecating humor than an attack on Greg. Obama seems to be poking fun at himself for not being able to get an appointment to stick.

Buford Gooch on February 13, 2009 at 5:19 PM

If so, you have to wonder why the administration did not 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.

Nothing to wonder about. He’s in over his head.

If you can’t stand the fire, don’t go into the kitchen.

Disturb the Universe on February 13, 2009 at 5:31 PM

Mr. Gregg’s concern about potential changes at the Census Bureau, particularly news that the census director would report to the White House instead of the commerce secretary, are understandable: Either this administration trusts me or it does not, he might fairly have felt.

It’s just a power grab; nothing personal. He would have done it to anybody.

Disturb the Universe on February 13, 2009 at 5:34 PM

so Abe freed the “captives” according to Obama,anyone heard that term before.

beens21 on February 13, 2009 at 5:35 PM

Just how much can the White House manipulate the Census?

Ares on February 13, 2009 at 5:14 PM

A little creative mathmatics and suddenly certain states get more representatives, and Obama has said the allocation of his stimulus funds will be tired to census data. Use your imagination.

Disturb the Universe on February 13, 2009 at 5:37 PM

How many ACORN workers does it take to screw in a light bulb? us over with the census?

hillbillyjim on February 13, 2009 at 5:46 PM

For the census: watch all the blue states get bigger and all the red states get smaller. ACORN is coming your way. Voter census fraud for hire.

Mojave Mark on February 13, 2009 at 6:37 PM

Yet O’bama and his compliant media brownshirts are still saying the exact opposite.

Cause he lies.

Alana on February 13, 2009 at 6:42 PM

How many ACORN workers does it take to screw in a light bulb? us over with the census?

hillbillyjim on February 13, 2009 at 5:46 PM

Think about it. I don’t think it’s highly likely; I believe it is practically guaranteed.

hillbillyjim on February 13, 2009 at 7:23 PM

Del Dolemonte

Any chance Gregg will have any chance at talking any sense into the potato twins from your neighboring state???

phreshone on February 13, 2009 at 2:37 PM

None whatsoever.

BTW, only Collins is a true potato-head, as she was born in Caribou in “The County”. Olympia on the other hand is from LA (Lewsiton-Auburn) which is factory-ville. Both are career politicians who have never held jobs in the private secotr.

Del Dolemonte on February 13, 2009 at 7:39 PM

I’ve come to hate Obama’s upturned chin.

Kralizec on February 13, 2009 at 8:34 PM

I am surprised he didn’t scratch his cheek with his middle finger after he uttered his snark.

Mallard T. Drake on February 13, 2009 at 8:35 PM

Have you noticed the little dance step the Fairy Godmother takes whenever he shifts his weight from one foot to the other?

Kralizec on February 13, 2009 at 8:41 PM

I’ve come to hate Obama’s upturned chin.

Kralizec on February 13, 2009 at 8:34 PM

I’ve come to despise what it represents.

hillbillyjim on February 13, 2009 at 8:46 PM

How can such a childish man be the President of the United States? Grow up already.

sdun1 on February 13, 2009 at 9:12 PM

Our President is a Comedian.

Watch him waiting for applause after (I paraphrase) “…maybe [Lincoln] was waiting to be called to become Commerce Secretary.”

How proud (of himself) he becomes when the ovation comes in.

How is this entire affair going to end?

albertpale on February 13, 2009 at 10:14 PM

Peeved and churlish? Can’t be! Not after being lectured to for the last 8 years by these same people that decent is the truest form of patriotism?
Surely you jest, Mr Morrissey.No?

RMR on February 13, 2009 at 10:19 PM

And yes! That was a play on words. As no decent person was ever fooled by the liberal lie that their vicious attacks on conservatives for the last 8 years was a patriotic act of dissent.

RMR on February 13, 2009 at 10:42 PM