Gregg Should Not Be Confirmed as Commerce Secretary

Anyone who reads my blogs must know I am an enthusiastic Obama supporter and have been from the day he announced his candidacy for President. But I am disturbed by some of his decisions since taking office, and I can only hope that his fellow-Democrats in Congress will save him from himself.

greggHis choice of Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire to join his cabinet leaves me totally bewildered. Obviously, it’s some kind of bipartisan gesture, but why? The Republican members of Congress have demonstrated beyond any doubt that they do not intend to cooperate with the new President. Some party spokesmen have come right out and said they plan to sabotage the Obama Administration in hopes of regaining power.

So what does he expect to gain by nominating a staunch Republican to the post of Commerce Secretary? Surely, he must know that Gregg once voted to abolish the Commerce department? And – even more important – Gregg’s deeply held beliefs run contrary to Obama’s core principles.

Gregg is a dyed-in-the-wool fiscal conservative who opposes abortion rights and gun control. His voting record has sparked opposition from the black caucus in the House of Representatives and civil rights groups. And he is not even scandal-free. You can expect questions to be raised at Gregg’s confirmation hearings about former aide Kevin Koonce, who is under investigation for allegedly taking baseball and hockey tickets from convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff in exchange for legislative favors.

With the stink raised over Tom Daschle’s and Tim Geithner’s tax problems still hanging in the air, you might think Obama would want to avoid awkward questions about his other cabinet choices. And I expect there will be awkward questions about Gregg – not only from Republican obstructionists but also from Democrats who balk at the nominee’s views. My hope is that the Senate will vote down Gregg’s confirmation. This would be an embarrassment for Obama, of course. But an embarressment would do less lasting harm than the appointment of a cabinet member so ill suited to his post.