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Gregg Steps Aside as Commerce Secretary-Designate

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Updated 4:33 p.m.
By Anne E. Kornblut
Citing "irresolvable conflicts," Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) withdrew his name from consideration for Commerce secretary on Thursday afternoon, saying he disagreed with President Obama too strongly on the stimulus package to serve in his Cabinet.

"Nothing about the vetting process played any role in this decision," Gregg said in a statement.

Gregg has announced a news conference at the Senate at 5:25 p.m. Eastern to further explain his decision.

He said it had been an honor to be picked as Commerce secretary. "However, it has become apparent during this process that this will not work for me as I have found that on issues such as the stimulus package and the Census there are irresolvable conflicts for me," Gregg said. "Prior to accepting this post, we had discussed these and other potential differences, but unfortunately we did not adequately focus on these concerns."

He continued: "We are functioning from a different set of views on many critical items of policy. Obviously the president requires a team that is fully supportive of all his initiatives."

Gregg's sudden exit was as shocking as his selection had been in the first place. It leaves Obama with a gaping hole in his Cabinet; he is the second potential commerce secretary to withdraw, after New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson stepped aside following an investigation into his office. And it signaled that the partisan differences that defined Obama's stimulus package -- which drew just three Republican votes -- were destined to have an even deeper and more lasting effect.

Gregg's full statement explaining his decision follows:

I want to thank the President for nominating me to serve in his Cabinet as Secretary of Commerce. This was a great honor, and I had felt that I could bring some views and ideas that would assist him in governing during this difficult time. I especially admire his willingness to reach across the aisle.

However, it has become apparent during this process that this will not work for me as I have found that on issues such as the stimulus package and the Census there are irresolvable conflicts for me. Prior to accepting this post, we had discussed these and other potential differences, but unfortunately we did not adequately focus on these concerns. We are functioning from a different set of views on many critical items of policy.

Obviously the President requires a team that is fully supportive of all his initiatives.

I greatly admire President Obama and know our country will benefit from his leadership, but at this time I must withdraw my name from consideration for this position.

As we move forward, I expect there will be many issues and initiatives where I can and will work to assure the success of the President's proposals. This will certainly be a goal of mine.

Kathy and I also want to specifically thank Governor Lynch and Bonnie Newman for their friendship and assistance during this period. In addition we wish to thank all the people, especially in New Hampshire, who have been so kind and generous in their supportive comments.

As a further matter of clarification, nothing about the vetting process played any role in this decision. I will continue to represent the people of New Hampshire in the United States Senate.

Posted at 4:23 PM ET on Feb 12, 2009  | Category:  Cabinet
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Previous: Obama, Honoring Lincoln, Urges Unity | Next: Emanuel: 'There's Not Hard Feelings' Over Gregg Withdrawal


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Comments

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When are we going to find out the real reason he decided it wasn't in his personal interest to "resign"?

I just found out control of the census was moved from the Commerce Dept. to the White House.

Posted by: dave131 | February 13, 2009 10:12 PM

JAMES GALBRAITH: Well, first of all, there is a grave understatement in those arguments about what the New Deal actually did. And that understatement is typically because the unemployment figures that many people are accustomed to using for the 1930s don’t count people who actually worked for the New Deal. This is Michael Steele’s distinction between jobs and work. But people who were building the Lincoln Tunnel or the Triborough Bridge or the aircraft carrier Yorktown are counted as work relief and not as employed, and there were many millions of those. And when you put them into the figures, you find that the New Deal actually reduced unemployment from 25 percent in 1933 to about—to less than ten percent in 1936. It went up again in ’37 and then came back down again to about ten percent before the war. So, a major, major improvement in unemployment did occur under the New Deal.


Posted by: rooster54 | February 13, 2009 1:31 PM

Dear ReaganiteRepublican sycophant-

Reagan failed. His legacy is failure.

inhttp://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/21/opinion/21krugman.html

Posted by: rooster54 | February 13, 2009 1:15 PM

I think Lincoln would be delighted in Obama because he would recognize another rational pragmatist who reaches out to his opponents even over the most severe of disagreements, and who doesn't try to hide his political opinions under a shallow appeal to simplistic but popular conceptions of the deity.

Petty people today are criticizing Obama for handling the crisis he was delivered. Petty people yesterday criticized Lincoln for the same. Obama takes over a country plunging into financial ruin before he even took the oath of office. Lincoln took over a country breaking into pieces, with half the country seceding before he even too the oath of office. Then, too, there were people willing to destroy the country because of their blind devotion to dubious principles.

Small minds are a persistent feature of the American landscape. Thank God that great minds, while always scare, have so far been sufficient to compensate.

Posted by: nodebris | February 12, 2009 11:59 PM

Gregg's been around enough to know a sinking ship when he sees one, lol

The fact is that Keynsian economic policy was comprehensively discredited a long, long time ago.

The reality that Obama needs to recognize is that the New Deal was a financial disaster- actually far worse than the market downturn that lead to it. He needs to stop basing his policies on dumbed-down civics-text versions of events and consider economic logic.

And the president has decided to demonize private enterprise, just as FDR did, as a way to present government as the great savior… so typical of socialists with no business or executive managerial experience.

You cannot make a country rich by looting taxpayers, then paying people to pour cement and pick up trash. These activities amount to capital consumption- and are not sources of productive investment. One can say that they are either useless or needed tasks, but it is not a matter of ideology as to whether such public projects will make us all wealthier... they WILL NOT. - Do enough of this nonsense, distorting incentives and crippling the guiding hand of the market, and you can destroy the livelihoods of an entire generation-

http://reaganiterepublicanresistance.blogspot.com

Posted by: ReaganiteRepublican | February 12, 2009 7:18 PM

So Gregg had no idea what Obama planned for the stimulus package or his stance on the census prior to accepting the nomination about one week ago?

What a jerk.

The republicans show time and time again they have absolutely no intention of playing well with others.

What a bunch of crybabies.

Posted by: JRM2 | February 12, 2009 7:06 PM

"Republicans were courteously consulted at the member and staff level, we were never at the negotiating table."

That sounds 1000% more than the 'uniter not a divider' ever did.

The so called "politicization" of the census office is a canard, a distraction, typical Republican chest-thumping about nothing while the Country continues to fall apart.

Posted by: thebobbob | February 12, 2009 6:57 PM

"Republicans were courteously consulted at the member and staff level, we were never at the negotiating table."

That sounds 1000% more than the 'uniter not a divider' ever did.

The so called "politicization" of the census office is a canard, a distraction, typical Republican chest-thumping about nothing while the Country continues to fall apart.

Posted by: thebobbob | February 12, 2009 6:54 PM

O'Bomba, as a Congressional Stooge for the Dimocrats;

Should NOT be allowed to gerrymander Voting Districts!

That is almost as bad as what we are going to suffer with his Judicial Selections! :-(

Christ! The whole Country is going so hard to Port, we are going to Capsize!

Abandon SHIP! :-(

Or;

MUTINY! ;~)

Posted by: SAINT---The | February 12, 2009 6:18 PM

To: parkerfl1

You are joking, right?

Cabinet members are OFFERED positions. They don't apply for them. This was all done at Obama's behest. HE offered Gregg a position.

All of a sudden, the Census is being taken away from the position that Gregg was offered. The census is the biggest part of the Commerce Department's duties. Ever ask WHY? Because this is a flim flam move by the Obama administration to wrangle the voting districts in the favor of the Democrats in 2012. Gregg saw through this. You didn't

Furthermore, the nomination of Gregg was done for politcal gain to oust the Republican in his district and replace him with a Democrat. Gregg wised up.

In addition, the President's arrogance about passing the stimulus package has turned many of us off. I suppose Gregg was smart enough to see the writing on the wall already. He was being used in a partisan manner, as usual and he said no, and quite graciously, I might add.

Perhaps the nuances of the down and dirty politics you are assigning to Gregg should be reconsidered and the pure sneakiness of those moves should be laid at the feet of the truly guilty.

This is a much more intricate dance that is being played out than people are really aware. No conspiracy theories. Just facts.

There is none so blind as those who WILL NOT SEE.

Posted by: Daylo1 | February 12, 2009 6:14 PM

scrivener50:

What would Abe Lincoln think about Obama's presidency? Not what you would imagine

Actually, Lincoln likely would have been appalled. How could he not? He was a 19th-century white man who famously said in 1858 that "there is a physical difference between the white and black races, which ... will forever forbid the two races living together upon terms of social and political equality."

How do you reconcile that with all those cartoons of Lincoln congratulating Obama? You don't. You simply recognize it for what it is: yet another illustration of how shallow our comprehension of history is, yet another instance where myth supersedes reality.

Not that this is anything new — or that political cartoonists are the only ones susceptible. Indeed, blacks once tended to regard Lincoln with an almost religious reverence. Consider another Lincoln statue, this one in a park east of the Capitol: It depicts Lincoln towering over a newly freed black man who kneels at his feet. While modern eyes might find the image unbearably paternalistic, it represented the heartfelt sentiment of the black men and women who gave it to the city in 1876 in gratitude, they said, for Lincoln freeing the slaves.

Of course, Lincoln freed no slaves. That's the myth. His Emancipation Proclamation was a military measure to demoralize and destabilize the rebellious South; it covered states he did not govern, but did not apply in slaveholding states that remained under his jurisdiction.

None of which is to deny or diminish the greatness of the 16th president. His greatness stands unquestioned, unquestionable. We would be a very different nation, a lesser nation, without his political genius, his dogged faith in the unsundered Union, his refusal to accept less than Union, even when haunted by reversals and setbacks that would have broken anyone else.

No, the argument is not about Lincoln's greatness. Rather, it is about our tendency to cherish untextured myths that affirm our preferred narratives. George Washington confessing that he chopped down the cherry tree is one, a parable of honesty that has survived for generations despite the minor inconvenience of not being true. Lincoln the Great Emancipator is yet another.

Abraham Lincoln did not believe in the equality of black people. He did, however — and this was no minor distinction in his era — believe in their humanity. He also abhorred slavery. But he was willing to countenance it if doing so would have vindicated his primary goal: to save the Union.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2008638049_opina18pitts.html

Posted by: JakeD | February 12, 2009 6:10 PM

LOL!

Posted by: JakeD | February 12, 2009 6:07 PM

This is a truly unconscionable move on Gregg's part, pulling an embarrassing and hyper-partisan Brett Favre on the President of the United States.

Gregg knew his own far-right principles before HE offered his name for Commerce. but superficially appeared to be willing to put aside ideology and work with the other party and the new president.

Gregg is a smart guy, but he's obviously clueless when it comes to thinking beyond his party's best interests and his own partisan ideology.

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: parkerfl1 | February 12, 2009 5:51 PM

LESSON LEARNED FOR MR. OBAMA:

Partisanship in the defense of REAL change...

...not rhetorical, but actual, gutsy, take-'em-on change... is NO vice.

Remember, Lincoln eventually ditched the "team of rivals" notion, with good reason.


***

Speaking of Lincoln, Mr. President/Team Obama...

What would Lincoln do about:

* State-supported "community gang-stalking"
* Use of radiation weaponry on suspected "undesirables"
* Secret bureaucratic "programs of personal destruction"?
* State-sanctioned "eugenics"

*******************************************

IT IS DAY 24 OF THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION.

DO YOU *REALLY* KNOW WHAT YOUR 'MULTI-AGENCY ACTION CENTER' IS UP TO?

http://my.nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-targets-terrorizes-u-s-citizens

http://my.nowpublic.com/world/domestic-torture-radiation-weaponry-americas-horrific-shame

OR (if links are corrupted):

http://My.NowPublic.com/scrivener

Posted by: scrivener50 | February 12, 2009 4:44 PM

SMART MAN!

Posted by: Daylo1 | February 12, 2009 4:24 PM

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