"I couldn't be Judd Gregg."
That's what Senator Judd Gregg said in explaining his withdrawal as Commerce Secretary nominee.
My question to the Obama team is this: why nominate a Republican if you don't want to hear different viewpoints? How do you have a "Team of Rivals" if you can't tolerate the rivals?
Senator Gregg is a fiscal conservative -- has been for thirty years in public service. Did the White House not know that? There are a lot of ways to vet a nominee (see; Geithner, Daschle, et al.), but anyone remotely interested could have figured out where Gregg would be not only on the Economic Stimulus Package but on the Census.
The Census is done every ten years, as outlined in the Constitution. The census falls under the purview of the Commerce Department. The census is how districts are determined in Congress. This is a surprise to anyone in the administration? Surely this came up when choosing Gregg. Didn't it?
President Obama has a lot of goodwill, from Democrats and Republicans alike. Senator Gregg trusted him, and seemed eager to serve. He made no secret of his principles though, working to get Bonnie Newman appointed to fill his seat with the help of Democratic New Hampshire Governor John Lynch.
The basic idea is this: President Obama won a mandate for change. Voters did not want anything like the Bush administration. They didn't want Senator John McCain and Sarah Palin.
Right now, the administration is operating as if it had a mandate to govern anyway it likes. Hard to see a mandate for that. A mandate for change, yes. But perhaps a mandate for inclusiveness too. Looking at the world through one set of lenses did in the Bush administration and any Republican in their wake (see: John Sununu).
The bigger question for the Obama administration is this: is looking at the world through a different but equally myopic set of lenses akin to change?