judd great

The text below is mostly my response to an e-mail about Judd Gregg's withdrawal and what it shows about Pres. Obama's management abilities. I thought it might make an informative post, thought it doesn't include anything you don't know if you're a regular reader of either Talking Points Memo or Yglesias.

Poor choice with Gregg in a number of ways. For starters, Gregg voted to abolish the Department of Commerce in 1995 (also, this might still be a good idea, just need to spin off the census bureau, patent and trademark office, and NOAA as either independent agencies or into other departments, Commerce doesn't do anything important besides those). When I first heard about it, I assumed it was because they wanted the Democratic governor of NH to replace him with a Democratic Senator. But then everyone (Barack, Judd, the governor) agreed that wasn't happening. Which is good as a matter of (small-d) democratic theory: if the people of NH voted for a Republican Senator, they should have a Republican Senator. But if Obama and the Dems weren't getting a senator out of it (or even Gregg's vote on anything while he was a Senator), it's not clear what the motivation was, except to make a bipartisan gesture. And then it seemed like Obama hadn't given any thought to the issues regarding the Census which the Black and Hispanic caucuses in the House raised soon after Gregg was announced, and then over-reacted to those.

Also there are rumors the withdrawal isn't about the census or stimulus, but rather pressure from back in N.H.

As some support for the idea that there shouldn't be a cabinet level Secretary of Commerce, I recommend looking through the wikipedia entries for the last five of them. You'll find exactly zero mentions of anything they did while they held the office. That's not to say they didn't do anything, just that they didn't do anything notable enough to get the attention of people who were already going to the trouble of creating a wikipedia page for them.