The Know-Nothings Score.

February 12, 2009 at 7:54 pm | Posted in Department of Commerce | Leave a comment
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Taking census, 1920

Taking census, 1920

I could not understand for the life of me why President Obama had nominated Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) for the position of Commerce Secretary. According to the White House, Gregg asked for the nomination.

Thankfully, Gregg has withdrawn his acceptance of the nomination, citing “irresolvable differences” on economic issues.

It’s now pretty clear why Gregg accepted and why he has now changed his mind.

Republicans hoped to control the 2010 census through Judd Gregg.   How do we know? Because they lost control of their collective bowels upon learning that the President would be closely monitoring the Census Bureau’s conduct of the census and Senator Gregg lost his desire to be Commerce Secretary.

At a White House press conference on February 6th a reporter asked Robert Gibbs, “Has the White House moved the control of the Census Bureau into the White House for the purposes of the 2010 census, and if so why?” Robert Gibbs basically said no, pointing out that the director of the census “works for the Secretary of Commerce, the President, and also works closely with the White House, to ensure a timely and accurate count. And that’s what we have in this instance.”

Despite the White House denial that the 2010 census would be done “in-house,” a great wailing and gnashing of teeth ensued.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) called for an immediate investigation by the House:

“In the past few days, local elected leaders have expressed to me their grave concern that the census might be politicized. They worry that political influence from the White House will steer resources and representation away from the rural and suburban communities that I represent and towards larger urban areas. Honest and dedicated people direct the Census Bureau. The White House needs to let them get an honest count in 2010, free from undue influence.”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) had a full-scale conniption:

“The Obama administration’s recent actions regarding the census are outrageous and unprecedented,” Issa said in a statement.

“Commanding the census director to report directly to the White House is a naked political power grab and transparently partisan,” he added. “The need for an independent Census Bureau is recognized by Republicans and Democrats alike — and every living former census director is on record supporting an independent Census Bureau.” (FoxNews)

The Republicans score multiple times with this one.

Point One:  Their demand that a Republican be appointed to replace Gregg in the Senate was granted, making Democrats look like a bunch of pussies for agreeing.

Points two and three:  Gregg’s withdrawal gives the Villagers more opportunity to chatter about the President’s “failed nominees” and about how the very-principled Senator Gregg couldn’t stand to soil himself by direct association with a Democratic administration, choosing to remain among the “loyal opposition” in the Senate where he could do more damage without having to do actual work be more effective.

And for bonus points, the public salting of the field has begun so that the 2010 census results can be declared unreliable and unfair.

I’m beginning to wonder where President Obama is getting some of these Cabinet suggestions from. Whoever suggested Gregg is no friend of the Obama administration or the country.

UPDATE: Nice. Apparently Gregg did not bother to notify the White House before he announced he had changed his mind about being Commerce Secretary.

Given that Gregg also announced that he would not be running for re-election in 2010, perhaps he’s just hoping to slide out before anyone looks at him any more closely.

UPDATE (2/13/09): My sense that this Gregg/Commerce nonsense is field-salting only increases. “The census has not been removed from the Commerce Department’s purview, as Ambers explains below. And past censuses have long been conducted with coordination from the White House staff.”

UPDATE (2/13/09): It took me a while but I finally discovered the basis of Republican hysteria about the census. As one would expect, it’s much ado about nothing. In fact, Ken Pruitt, who was appointed by George W. Bush and managed the 2000 census, has been asked to act in the same capacity for the 2010 census.

Samuel L. Rogers, Director of Census (1915)

Samuel L. Rogers, Director of Census (1915)

(CQ Politics) After black and Hispanic leaders raised concerns over Commerce Secretary-nominee Judd Gregg ’s commitment to core functions of the Census Bureau, a senior White House official told CQ on Wednesday that the director would report directly to the White House.

That brought fire Thursday from Republicans, who accused the White House of attempting to gain advantage in the politically delicate process of counting Americans and of violating the law by circumventing the Commerce secretary. The decennial census is used to determine the apportionment of congressional districts among the states and federal funding for numerous programs.

The White House took a small step back from what the senior official told CQ, releasing a statement late Thursday that couched the relationship between the Census Bureau director and the West Wing as one in which the director would work with the high-level officials rather than report directly to them.

FURTHER UPDATE (12/13/09): FiveThirtyEight reports: “Emanuel said the idea for Gregg as Commerce Secretary had come to the White House through Harry Reid, that it was not the White House’s original idea.” Sam Stein of Huffington Post got confirmation of Reid’s involvement from Reid’s spokesman Jim Manley.

FURTHER FURTHER UPDATE (3/4/09): Oh, look! An inexplicably salted field!

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