3:45 p.m. ET: As the hours go by it's looking less likely that President Obama will announce Judd Gregg as his Commerce Secretary today. But his eventual nomination is looking more assured now that Gregg has made public that he would only leave the Senate if a Republican replaced him, and John Lynch seems amenable to that idea.
Is it too much to ask that both Gregg and the White House double- or triple-check his tax returns before his nomination becomes official? Barring tax problems or a random embarrassing photo, Gregg should be assured of an easy confirmation.
And his former colleague Tom Daschle's path also looks to be the clear -- or at least, clearer -- now that Max Baucus has belatedly come out in support of the HHS nominee. Then the Senate can get to work clearing the backlog of other Cabinet nominations.
8 a.m. ET: The results are in and history has been made: President Obama's Pittsburgh Steelers have defeated John McCain's Arizona Cardinals in a contest that was close at the end but still went to the team that was favored all along. If you're looking for a more extensive electoral/sports analogy than that, you'll have to look elsewhere.
But the comparisons are tough to resist, so let's try one more: The game was expected to be dull, and it was for a while, until some surprising bursts of excitement in the final minutes. Not unlike Obama's Cabinet selection process. We should know as early as today whether Obama has indeed picked Judd Gregg to serve as his Commerce secretary, a surprising choice on a number of levels. Yes, it appears that a Republican would likely be appointed to replace him, but this still makes it even more likely that Democrats will have a shot at picking up that seat in 2010 (and Gregg may well have not relished the thought of a tough campaign two years from now). The selection also seems to indicate that Obama is serious about entitlement reform, a subject of expertise for Gregg. But how much input does the Commerce secretary have on entitlement programs? Not much. At least, not until now.
Then there's Tom Daschle, whose prospects for a totally smooth Senate confirmation had looked as good or better than those of any other Cabinet nominee. Until a few days ago, when we learned of his tax problems, his delay in reporting them to Team Obama and his lucrative payments from health care companies. (This picture was obviously taken during happier times for the South Dakotan.)
Those mistakes will certainly draw some criticism from Republicans when Daschle goes before the Senate Finance Committee today, but Daschle's nomination should be fine unless some Democrats -- we're looking at you, gentleman from Montana -- unexpectedly turn against their former leader. More likely Daschle's nomination will turn out more like that of Eric Holder, who is expected to win easy confirmation by the Senate today after having earlier endured rough waters.
Helping to shepherd all these nominations can be stressful. So how long will Rahm Emanuel serve as chief of staff? The average tenure for the post is just a few years, and Emanuel seems to have let folks know back in Illinois' 5th district that he wants to return to his House seat some day. Politically, it would be far more entertaining if Emanuel chose to run for Senate in 2010 -- especially since Roland Burris isn't too popular -- but that seems to be out of the question.
Democrats might wish they had Emanuel in the Senate this week as the chamber takes up the economic stimulus package. The measure looks likely to grow even bigger which could make it tougher to attract more Republican votes. But as The Fix notes, Democrats are launching radio ads against 28 House Republicans for opposing the stimulus package, and a few moderates in that chamber sound willing to vote for the measure when it comes back as a conference report.
February 2, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
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