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The Rundown

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.

By Ben Pershing  |  February 12, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
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COMMENTS

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Rahm Emmanual and President Obamam better get on the same page soon. And I think we need to look no farther than Rahm-bo for the missteps of the past three weeks

The president had to go onto TV last week to admit he and his team made mistakes with the stimulus package. Rahm-bo was still thinking like a Congressman when he allowed Pelosi and the Democrats to load 8 years worth of repressed Democratic programs into the stimulus.

The other night, Obama oversold Geithner's bailout plan. Geithner was not as specific as Obama said he would be. And I guess I am not too disturbed about the lack of specificity right now. I am disturbed that Obama oversold it and that he was content to put Geithner out there when he wasn't ready to be clear.

Here's the problem from my perspective. Geithner speech yesterday was not meant for Wall Street but for Main Street. Obama wants to show that he is aware of the problem and that he is doing something about it.

Fine and well. Obama has a lot of irons in the fire right now and all of them are red-hot. He has to get the stimulus bill passed before he can drop the dime on us about the costs of the financial bail-out. I saw Geithner speech as laying down the direction, if not the premises, of what this program will have to entail at the same time allaying the effect of culture shock that would occur if this all came in one big speech.

Wall Street was just upset, I reckon, that Geithner said that he does not envision be a 100% gov't bailout: that they will have to pick up some of the costs of recovery. So the Dow dropped 400 points yesterday at the bad news. I don't care. I am not part of the vaunted "investor class." The heck with Wall Street. They are going to do what it is that they do anyhow. Let's hear their ideas, and Republican ideas while we're at it, of how they should and are going to get out of this mess.

Obama has been president for only 3 weeks. By now, Bush would have been upstairs in the White House residence playing golf on his PS3.

Posted by: Anadromous2 | February 12, 2009 10:25 AM

I think that if Geithner had attempted to spell out all of the details of the financial bailout, most of the TV audience would have gone to sleep. The WSJ was probably pre-disposed to criticize his presentation no matter what he said. A great deal has been accomplished albeit imperfect in just four weeks.

As for the 'investor class', working and middle class people have prudently invested over a long period of time and millions have not been trying the get rich quick approach. Without investment capital, no bailout will work and millions will continue unemployed.

The govt. can pump all the money into the market it wants and shoppers may return to the retail stores, but if investors stay on the sideline, any improvement will be short-lived. It's wise to remember all of the dynamics necessary to drive an economic recovery. The retired 'bunch' will be like a concrete weight if any more of their retirement savings vanish and teir buying power, greatly needed in the market, will dry up. This is an effort that needs everyone so let's not treat the investors as a group we don't need. Buffett can't pull it off all by himself.

Posted by: rias2500 | February 12, 2009 10:50 AM

SPECTER, SNOWE AND COLLINS GET THE 'SAVE'...

THAT'S A LESSON THAT IS NOT LOST ON OBAMA.

WATCH HIM BRING THIS BRAVE, DEFIANT TROIKA INTO HIS POLITICAL ORBIT.

This trio is getting savaged today in the hard-right blogosphere. What better measurement is there of their impact and effectiveness?

Now will these renege GOPers help right the human and civil rights abuses of the past eight years?

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

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 12:05 PM

How can we believe anything obummer does?
First, there was Bill Richardson for commerce secretary. Second, there was William J. Lynn III, slated for the No. 2 spot at the Defense Department. Third, there was Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's appointment. Fourth, there was Nancy Killefer's nomination as the government's first chief performance officer. Fifth, there was former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who would have led the Department of Health and Human Services. Sixth, there was the nomination of Rep. Hilda Solis for labor secretary.

And now we have lucky No. 7. Obama has nominated David Ogden to be the deputy attorney general, the second person in command in the Justice Department. According to the American Family Association, as an attorney in private practice, Ogden has filed briefs opposing parental notification before a minor's abortion, the Children's Internet Protection Act and the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act. He also has litigated many obscenity and pornography cases on behalf of clients such as the American Civil Liberties Union, Playboy, Penthouse and the largest distributor of hard-core pornographic movies

Is this change we can beleive in?

Posted by: charlietuna6661 | February 12, 2009 12:11 PM

What plan? Everyone is waiting for Obama to put out the details of his grand plan but he seems too busy jetting around the country and going out to the theater.

Meanwhile Michelle is on Vogue moocking all struggling Americans with her wealth, glamour, and designer clothes. Our own Marie Antoinette.

Enough of the town meetings and fashion shoots, time for real and sincere leadership.

Posted by: mgd1 | February 12, 2009 12:46 PM

What made the Wallstreet Bailout bumpy is that it's not the giveaway that Banks were hoping for. If private investors will buy up the murky assets, it will be with an appropriately steep markdown. Even is the government will add some sweeteners, this soup will stay very salty. The banks might actually prefer to keep the trash to avoid balance sheet loses.
One just has to laugh at those disingenuous ex-masters of the universe, complaining that the plan isn't specific enough, when the one thing they resent is that they're not given billions for free.

Posted by: stefankaitschick | February 12, 2009 12:51 PM

Oh I just love how the Pugs want to be bipartisan! Obama went out of his way to extend his hand in friendship and all of them just turned a blind eye. But when the stimulus pays off and our country recovers, with no thanks to them except the three [Snow, Collins and Spector], I hope the people of this country don't forget and pay the rest of the GOP back by giving them the boot - let them join the unemployment lines and see how they do]. Our country is in DESPARATE TIMES and if the government stands idly by and allows it to fail, where would we be? From the polls, it appears that most Americans are thankful for Obama's plan and are waiting anxiously for the recovery to appear. Did the Pugs think that they could wave a magic wand and make all this heartache disappear or did they think W would do the job better after the past 8 years and his trillion of dollars war in Iraq to help? Of course, we all know they have enough money to make it through life without ever working another day, but the rest of us weren't born with a silver spoon, so we need help and we need it now. The GOP needs to get off their high horse and mingle among regular folks so they can see what we are up against because we don't live in their circle of wealthy friends. I can only hope they are never reelected again.

Posted by: MadasHelinVA | February 12, 2009 3:13 PM

CORRECTION FOR BEN PERSHING: In the second to last paragraph you said "he wanted a big bill that combined spending boosts and tax INCREASES . . ." (my emphasis in caps). I think you meant to say "spending boosts and TAX CUTS". Even critics of the plan admit that there are tax cuts in this package, not increases.

Posted by: dyancy30 | February 12, 2009 3:17 PM

Admitting "mistakes" is a breath of fresh air. Even if there were “mistakes”, they were mere tactical; nothing structural. And admitting your mistakes and correcting it what American people have been longing for the past 8 years.

This is indeed a PLUS, if anything.

Posted by: JHigginss | February 12, 2009 3:23 PM

I agree that the passage of the stimulus bill was a victory for the President. But that is of minor importance. Was it a victory for the American taxpayer? I think history will judge NO.

If it is a huge stimulus to the economy, as promised, then Republicans will have been wrong to oppose it and will pay the price. It doesn't matter to me. I want the economy to recover.

The Republicans opposed this because a) they didn't think it would work and b) the spending would be thus be throwing money down a rathole.

Let's wait a few months and see who is right.

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | February 12, 2009 4:06 PM

RE: Gregg. This guy is in cahoots with Abrahamoff and were the world to be suddenly reminded that the GOP was so profoundly corrupt as Abrahamoff, it would make Daschle look like a saint in comparison. Think forced abortion slave workers in Saipan factories taking jobs from South Carolinians. Think about Abrahamoff's vast network of crooks and thieves and con games reaching forward into another administration.

Posted by: sparkplug1 | February 13, 2009 3:06 AM

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