I am somewhat confused. I have friends that say that is easy to do, so they would not be surprised to hear it. But I do not understand why Senator Gregg’s withdrawal of his name is a black eye for Obama. They did not approach him, although whether he approached them directly or Reid passed his name is up in the air, so if he pulls his name out, it should not reflect on them.
Well, maybe it does in one way. Maybe he realized, after watching the way the Obama administration got their act together and got the stimulus moving again, that he was only going to be one minority voice on the cabinet. I am not saying that Obama would not listen to him or would use him only as a token GOP member. (He would have been third out of 15 department heads. Pretty big token.) But the obvious differences between his views and the views of most of the Obama administration meant he would not have much effect.
And Gregg may have realized that as a moderate Republican from New England, with no intention of running again in 2010, he could have a lot of power on close votes in the Senate. The two moderate Republicans from Maine have certainly shown that being the swing vote can be a lucrative position. A fourth moderate Republican would dilute this power somewhat, as would Al Franken getting seated as the 59th Democratics senator, both of those events helping Harry Reid handle cloture votes more readily. But the person who makes the 60th vote for cloture can still have an immense influence on the shape of legislation.
Maybe Gregg decided he could have more effect if he tried to be that 4th moderate Republican, willing t0 help out the Democrats for changes in their bills. Not all of them of course. But maybe he would be willing to compromise on bills that Snowe, Collins, and Spectre would not. And the 4 of them can actually team up, with a different one making that vote each time, so the ones that have hard elections coming (Arlen Spectre) can say they didn’t always vote with the Dems.
But as I said, politics are confusing. Maybe Gregg’s change of mind is a problem for Obama. Personally I think the biggest problem he has is deciding who to try next as Commerce Secretary. And HHS Secretary (I am rooting for Howard Dean personally.) Thank goodness he finally has a Labor Secretary and CIA Director, although the delays there were not his fault. Considering his team is still not completely put together, Obama and his administration have been doing pretty good getting things done.home