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No Lure of Power When There’s No Power

February 13, 2009

Conservatives’ opinions differ on how laudable is Senator Judd Gregg’s withdrawal from the nomination of Commerce Secretary. Some, like Larry Kudlow, are very much impressed, others wonder more about why Gregg accepted in the first place. But it’s probably fair to say that all are pretty happy about his decision. At least this won’t lead Governor Lynch in New Hampshire into the temptation of appointing a Democrat as Gregg’s successor.

The differing evaluations of Gregg’s withdrawal are only natural because his motive is not very clear. In his official statement M Gregg cites the “stimulus” bill and the removal of the census from the Commerce Department as reasons for his decision. But, as Michael Goldfarb points out, the  pork monster stimulus bill didn’t pop up yesterday. So it is probably Obama’s move to get the census under the control of his chief of staff that made Gregg ultimately decide to withdraw.

It appears that the census issue made Senator Gregg realise that his role in Obama’s cabinet might be the one of a straw man. Over his head a white cloud appeared and this was in it:

Obama sits in his office sipping a cup of Black Forest Berry Tea. Rahm Emanuel enters and says in a business-like voice: “I know how to replace Richardson: take another Republican. Then we will have three instead of only two and can rightfully claim to have an unprecedented level of bipartisanship in our cabinet. This will be a line Robbie can feed to the media ad nauseam.”

“But what about the census? It would be under the control of a Republican!”, Obama almost spits out the last word like a curse. Without a change in tone Emanuel answers: “Don’t worry about that: you can place the census under my authority.” There is a hint of a sparkle in his eyes as Emanuel says this. But it probably just comes from a reflection of light on Obama’s O-logoed tea cup.

“But who would be so dumb as to take a cabinet post without actual power?”, the President looks genuinely puzzled. For a short moment, Emanuel’s lips take the shape of half-grin, his eyes in even deeper shadows than usually. With an emphasis on every word he says: “Senator Judd Gregg.” Then he continues in the same matter-of-fact tone as in the beginning: “He expects the position to be meaningless: he once voted for the abolition of the Commerce Department. And on top of that he’s from New Hampshire where Governor Lynch will see to it that his successor will be a Democrat. And this means -” “Filibuster-proof Senate!”, the President exclaims with a joyful face, “Rahm, you’re a genius!”

At this moment Senator Gregg’s cloud vanished with a “plop” and he awaked as from a dream. Immediately, he grabbed the telephone and called the White House to speak to the President. Oh well, at least it could have been like that.

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