Judd Gregg Puts Bipartisanship Out of its Misery

Judd Gregg Puts Bipartisanship Out of its Misery

Judd Gregg’s withdrawal as nominee for Secretary of Commerce add punctuation to something I’ve known for awhile now. While Gregg, to his credit, was gracious in his withdrawal, he took the words right out of my mouth, sort of:

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

The key here is that Gregg says that bipartisanship won’t work for him. That’s true of Gregg and every other Republican who depends on their base and their party apparatus to maintain power.

This is why the GOP allowed the stimulus to pass the Senate with only 3 votes, and zero in the House. It was the crux of my (mainly rhetorical) question to David Axelrod Monday night. After all of the consultation, wrangling, and negotiating, were the Republicans ever going to support any stimulus bill more broadly?

Of course not, their base is far too out-of-step to permit that, but they had to give up those 3 votes so they wouldn’t be blamed for obstructing the bill either. This will be the Republican game plan, to sit holding their collective breath until enough of the country agrees with them, again, that they’ll matter.

This may be spun as a negative for Obama in the short run, as it’s his second Commerce nominee to withdraw, amid other problems with his appointees, but I think it will be a net positive. The message here will be that Obama tried to play nice, but the Republicans couldn’t do it. As I paraphrased the President Monday night, we’ll have to be patient with the GOP, but we won’t wait for them to catch up. We’ll just be here when, or if, they do.