It was a bold and positive move when President Obama announced Sen. Judd Gregg as his choice for commerce secretary. The new president has made a point of proclaiming that his Cabinet would have greater influence and a bigger role in decision making than in previous administrations. Saying he'd listen to and depend upon the taciturn and flinty independent senator from New Hampshire was good news for the administration and for the country.
Judd Gregg is smart, principled, tough and, while a man of few words, straightforward and uncowed in what he does say. A patriot, he was putting our country ahead of party in accepting President Obama's nomination.
What Judd Gregg showed today is that he's not willing to swap his integrity for a place in the Cabinet. When the administration insisted on gutting Commerce Department supervision of the Census and putting it under direct White House political control, it stung Gregg. And when the administration set aside its own principles of "temporary, targeted and timely" stimulus measures to embrace a big spending measure full of programs that Gregg has opposed since coming to Congress, New Hampshire's senior senator realized that he was window dressing and that the administration had a greater interest in grabbing his Senate seat in 2010 than in listening to his counsel today.
His withdrawal is a loss for the Obama administration. It is welcome news for the country that there are still people in politics who put principle above personal advancement.