"I've been doing watercolors in my 'too much down time' and will send along 'The two that came out right.' What you won't see are the nine wrist slashers," writes nostalgic lifetime buddy NH illustrator extraordinaire M.L. Driscoll, sending along this totally awesome painting of the Stevens Farm in winter.
"We are functioning from a different set of views on many critical items of policy," NH Republican Sen. Judd Gregg said in a statement released by his Senate office this afternoon as he "abruptly withdrew his nomination as commerce secretary Thursday, citing 'irresolvable conflicts' with President Barack Obama's handling of the economic stimulus and 2010 census." Halleluijah! Unlike recent Democrat nomination withdrawals, Republican Gregg's withdrawal has nothing to do with questionable tax or lobbying issues but rather, refreshingly, philosophical principles:
In citing the stimulus and census, he said, "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."
Here's Mikey's second watercolor that "came out right," a portrait of his pussycat, Pumkin.
So glad he figured that out before allowing himself to go down the black hole that Dick Morris calls "Hillary’s incredible, shrinking role." We'd heard that anti-Israel under-the-bus campaign advisor Samantha Power had been rehabilitated under the radar to become NSC director of "multilateral affairs." She's the gal Obama tut-tutted over for popular consumption when she rightly called Hillary a "monster" during the primaries. How refreshing to have a Republican just say no. Quote from a news conference live on Fox, with Gregg gushing over how wunnerful President Obama is, BUT:
If the shoe doesn't fit … Ed Morrissey is as breathless as we are and has the goods:
Wow. This is an embarrassment for Obama, and might imperil the stimulus package, if Gregg has any influence over the waverers. The decision to strip him of authority over the census looks like the last straw, however — as it should have been.
Update: Barack Obama will take another big hit to his transition, but the man who really deserves the obloquy this time is Rahm Emanuel. The census ploy was a transparent attempt to hijack the data for political purposes, and pulling that stunt after Gregg’s appointment made Gregg look like a political eunuch. It was classic overreach, and it’s classic Emanuel.
Now he’s embarrassed himself, made his boss look impotent, and managed at the same time to damage Obama’s most critical piece of domestic policy legislation. If Gregg hits the media circuit to criticize Porkulus, his credibility as an Obama appointee will create a lot of heat on other Republicans and even a few Democrats to stop the runaway train of this bill and force it back into debate.
How sweet it is. There may be some life left yet in this old democratic republic. First came Sarah Palin, then Michael Steele and now Judd Gregg back in the fold. "Wonder why I feel jittery and jumpy? I am like a school girl waiting for a dance." AEI scholar Steven F. Hayward has the last word:
President Barack Obama's honeymoon period seems to have ended quickly. That's because Mr. Obama doesn't grasp the essentials of presidential leadership. Rather than making a compelling case for his economic policies, he has resorted to curt rebuffs, such as telling House Republican whip Eric Cantor, "I won." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the same thing the same day: "We won the election; we wrote the [stimulus] bill." This is the trope of a party that has lost its ability to make an argument.
"Mr. Obama and his team would be well advised to put aside the imperious FDR model and study Ronald Reagan's first 200 days in office. The contrast is instructive," Hayward continues:
One of the main themes that emerges from the IAP report is that Reagan and his team didn't assume that a landslide victory meant they had a mandate to do whatever they wanted. To the contrary, the report's authors, Richard Wirthlin and David Gergen, wrote: "The election was not a bestowal of political power, but a stewardship opportunity for us to reconsider and restructure the political agenda for the next two decades. The public has sanctioned the search for a new public philosophy to govern America."
Establishing a new governing philosophy, in other words, would require sustained public argument — something for which Reagan had an abiding instinct. Even in private sessions with Democrats, Reagan relished vigorous arguments about the welfare state. This was much to the annoyance of then House Speaker Tip O'Neill, who just wanted to cut deals.
Cutting deals vs vigorous arguments. Obama vs. Judd. Let the debate begin.