It's Now Official: Worst Transition Ever
Judd Gregg withdraws at Commerce; White House gobsmacked?
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.Removing the Census from Commerce Dept. purview was, apparently, the last straw:
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.
A source close to the process says that the idea of removing the census from Commerce and having it “run” out of the White House was taken as a slap in the face by Judd Gregg. “It was like saying they don’t trust you” with such a political issue, says the source.
This source says those who wanted Gregg — including chief of staff Rahm Emanuel — believed that in choosing him, the Obama team would be “taking the opposition’s quarterback off the field.”
“They have to take some of the blame for this,” says a Democratic source close to the White House. “They almost humiliated him by taking the census away from him.”
However, adds this source, Gregg’s decision to recuse himself on stimulus was not taken well at the White House either — it was seen as an insult to them.