James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association, a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media, and a professor of communication studies at Whitworth University.

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Gregg not sold on Commerce; public not stimulated by discussion, anyway

Posted by James McPherson on February 13, 2009

Apparently Senator Judd Gregg finally got around to watching some of Barack Obama’s old speeches on YouTube, and suddenly realized, “Hey, he’s not a Republican–how did he get elected president?” Gregg then promptly withdrew his nomination as Commerce secretary. It’s just as well–apparently Obama hadn’t yet gotten around to reading that Gregg once voted to abolish the very department he would have been leading as the third Republican member of Obama’s cabinet.

Gregg is the second nominee, after Bill Richardson, to accept and then reject the commerce position. Tax problems have derailed nominees for two other positions. Yet while embarrassing–prompting Obama’s unnecessary “I screwed up” statement–the missteps will matter little in the long run. For one thing, people don’t really care about cabinet positions even under the best of conditions.

And these are far from the best of conditions, of course. People care far more about is the economy, and with Congress about to passa stimulus bill today, Obama again proved successful on that front. The success or failure of the stimulus plan will have a far bigger effect on the chances of re-election for the president and his fellow Democrats than does any flap over cabinet nominees.

If you need an illustration of how little they matter, ask the people sitting next to how many of Obama’s picks they can name. I’d be surprised if they get three, even counting Timothy Geithner and Hillary Clinton. And for the record, a dozen cabinet nominees have already been confirmed.

In the meantime, Alexander Zaitchik of Alternet has joined the list of people and publications asking why Howard Dean, the guy perhaps most responsible for Obama reaching the White House, hasn’t been tabbed for a cabinet post. Good question, especially with that Health and Human Services position still open.

Thursday update: While Dean is forced to turn to the Huffington Post to get someone to listen to him about health care, it appears that Obama has decided on Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius for HHS chief. She’s not the best choice but probably not a bad one, assuming she pays her taxes.

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3 Responses to “Gregg not sold on Commerce; public not stimulated by discussion, anyway”

  1. Al said

    A modern day “Profile in Courage”, NH Senator Judd Gregg.

  2. The Real Issue said

    My fellow Americans:
    Senator Gregg withdrew because he wanted to dictate. First he wanted a Republican to replace him if he chose the Commerce Secretary position. Then he wouldn’t support the stimulus and wanted certain items in it, not for Americans but for his constituency.

    Sorry Senator Gregg, you were flighty and it didn’t work. You and your Republican Congressional colleagues don’t get it. The American mainstream do not like your partisan politics and will vote you one by one out of office.

    Look for these Senators to be removed and/or change to a Democratic party member….The following states with 2010 Senate Democratic victories against Republicans will be in Ohio, Indiana and Florida. And these are the starters.

    We won’t say what are strategy will be, but you already know Republicans lost the White House and you will know that you will lose 3-4 Senate Seats in 2010. CAN’T WAIT because you are not for mainstream Americans.

  3. julie shelton said

    I heard from a NH source that Judd has an Abramoff problem.

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