What was, at its core, the problem with Rod Blagojevich's demand for compensation, in some form or other, in return for appointing Obama's Senatorial replacement? The uncomfortable sensation was that a deal had to be made, was expected to be made, in order to get the "right" person in the job. Old, dirty politics out in the open. No one really wants to look under that rock.
Obama is set to name New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg to be Secretary of Commerce. Fine. I have my qualms, as frequent readers know, about contorting oneself to the degree the President has in the interest of bi-partisanship, especially when the other party is playing you like a fool. That Gregg is replacing just one of three embarrassing Cabinet picks (this one the scandal tainted Bill Richardson, the other two, Geithner and Daschle, who are just discovering how taxes work), is also fine.
Here's what is not fine and not clean at all. Gregg is a Republican (the third one in the Cabinet if approved). John Lynch, Democratic Governor of The Granite State, has the legal right to choose whoever he wants to fill the vacant slot. Gregg, though, mindful that another Democrat gets the Senatorial count up to 60, has laid down the law: I will not accept Commerce if the Governor picks a Democrat or Independent. It must be a Republican.
Of course, the Obama administration bristled at this. We don't make deals, that's old politics. We stood against Blago and we will stand against Gregg. There are other people who would be equal or better than Judd at Commerce.
Ah, not exactly. Obama agreed with Gregg and Lynch has confirmed an "understanding" of sorts. So what gives? Is it OK for Obama to play this game because we all know he's different? Or is it rotten behavior and politics is politics in the end?
The weird thing is, I love the guy. Watching Obama talk about his Blackberry turning into a car, or his deep interest in sports, just solidifies that he is a normal, intelligent and highly qualified person. I'm glad he's President. But with each day I get a little bit queasier. I probably just ate some bad hope.
2 hours ago