Just a couple of days after Barack Obama nominated New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg to be the Secretary of Commerce, there's an indication the new president doesn't trust his new nominee, at least when it comes to the delicate matter of the U.S. Census.
According to Congressional Quarterly:
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.
Yesterday the New York Times criticized Obama's pick:
Mr. Gregg was never a friend of the census. As chairman of the Senate committee that oversees the Commerce Department's budget, he frequently tried to cut the bureau's financing. In 1999, he opposed emergency funds for the 2000 census requested by President Bill Clinton and the Republican-controlled House.
The census is used to allocate federal aid to states and draw electoral districts. Given all that, one would think that the White House would be paying more attention. It isn't. A director of the census, who must be confirmed by the Senate, has yet to be named.
And this all follows the fallout of two nominees who ended up having tax problems. And some Obama supporters are frustrated by the the attitude of the White House press corps.
President Obama is having a really terrible week.
I know it is still way too early to write Obama off, but I am sorely reminded that one of the problems with hero worship is that the line between it and naked emperors can be vanishingly thin.
You know, I'd have liked to have gone a whole month with a new President before he announced plans to break the law. It's a blatant violation of duly-enacted Federal law to place the Census under any authority other than the Secretary of Commerce and his subordinates.