5:15 p.m. ET: So what is it with the Commerce secretary job? It's like the Bermuda Triangle of Cabinet posts.
First Bill Richardson had to drop out because he was under investigation, and now Judd Gregg is dropping out because ... well, because he's a Republican. We knew that already. Didn't he? Obviously the controversy over control of the Census was a factor in his decision, and based on Gregg's statement, his opposition to the economic stimulus package was too. Still, it seems that Gregg had to know that as a Republican joining a Democratic administration, he was going to have to make some compromises, either going along with some policies he didn't completely endorse or at least holding his tongue about them.
Now the Commerce job will be vacant that much longer, and poor Bonnie Newman won't get to be a senator. Will Gregg run for reelection now in 2010? And who will Obama pick next to fill this job? Hopefully the administration will choose very, very carefully this time.
8 a.m. ET: One (almost) down, one to go. That's President Obama's current scorecard on big-ticket proposals, as Congress has reached a deal on his signature stimulus legislation but the administration still faces a tough task in convincing a skeptical public and Congress that its financial rescue plan is worth the risk and the trillion-plus dollar outlay.
On that latter point, the White House realizes the obvious -- the banking plan made an inauspicious debut. In an interview Wednesday with Lois Romano for the Washington Post's "Voices of Power" video series, Obama senior adviser David Axelrod acknowledged that the unveiling of the bailout was "bumpy," but expressed confidence that the proposal would work.
"Well, I think it was a bumpy rollout because Wall Street was hoping for a complete answer to some really complex and expensive problems, and what Secretary Geithner laid out didn't meet those expectations, but he laid out a strategy that we think is going to work," Axelrod said. "In the coming weeks, he'll lay out tactics to support that strategy, and people will know exactly what's expected of them and what our role will be as a government."
And Axelrod expressed confidence that members of the the financial industry would eventually come on board with the administration's plan. "It may not be exactly the solution that they want. It may require more of them than they'd like, but I think they have an interest in seeing a solution, and I think they'll work with us on that
solution," he said.
The key, Axelrod said, was not to overreact to one day's worth of negative press coverage or falling stock markets.
"I mean, I think that, you know, one thing that we've learned over the last couple of years is that this town can get in a frenzy very quickly about stories of the moment, but that the real story is written over time," he said. "And so we try and keep our heads about us and pursue what we think is the appropriate strategy, and that's what we are going to do here."
Watch washingtonpost.com later this morning for a segment of the Axelrod video interview. (UPDATE: Here it is.) The whole session will be online Friday.
As for the stimulus measure, it does seem to be a win for Obama -- he wanted a big bill that combined spending boosts and tax increases, and he wanted it fast, and that's what he got. But it may not necessarily have been a clean or pretty victory. Some Democratic constituencies aren't altogether pleased, Republicans remain mostly united and energized in their opposition, earning a pat on the back from Karl Rove, and the public still isn't quite sure what to make of the plan.
And Obama never did get that bipartisanship he had hoped for, despite his best efforts and those of his emissary to moderate Republicans, Ray LaHood. For all of Obama's promises to bring "change" to Washington, little of it seems to have reached the legislative process yet. But the stimulus was still a victory for the administration, and soon it will be able to turn its full attention to that bailout plan, hoping that a "bumpy" beginning will soon turn smooth.
February 12, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
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