Well, it had to come to this. A party with as much history and pride as the Republican party does not simply wither away and die in silence. 

Republican Judd Gregg withdrew today as Obama’s chosen Commerce Secretary. And in case you were stuck in No-TV-No-Radio-No-Internet-No-Newspaper-land, Obama has had significant difficulties getting his stimulus package passed in the Senate with Republican opposition. Seen from a distance this would appear to simply be Washington working in as partisan a manner as Washington usually does. But an alternate explanation could also be proposed here. It could be argued that Republicans have strategically decided to go to war with Obama and have bet many re-elections on this stance. The goal of this approach could be to run on an  anti-Obama, anti-Pelosi, anti-Harry Reid platform in the mid-term elections then gain enough ground in 2010 to reconstruct themselves along some sort of coherent set of policies that would have, by then been crystalized.

This can be deduced from the following:

1-Rush Limbaugh goes on air to say he wants Obama to fail. Now regardless of party affiliation, it would be normal to assume that citizens want their president to succeed, especially in difficult economic times when the economic welfare of the nation is what he has at heart. So to clearly take the opposite stance means one only cares to protect the purity of their ideology. Because success for Obama (and for the nation as a result) would mean success for his ideas, liberal ideas and therefore defeat for the opposite propositions. Limbaugh and his ilk want none of that, even if the country goes up in flames in the process.

2-No Republicans vote for the Stimulus in congress and only 3 usually “convincable” ones in the Senate.

After 8 years of  G. W. Bush tax cuts for the rich, over-inflated federal government, a country endebted to China for possibly a generation, 2 wars and many unresolved conflicts around the world, one would assume that the Republicans would accept that some of their stalwart propositions have failed and should be retired. Tax cuts alone do not stimulate an economy, especially when they are targetted at the upper class that does not need the help. Financial industries need regulations. A state cannot rely on the self-interest of bankers to protect the national economic interest. Self-interest has a way of being very selfish.  Perpetual war-making as a way of taming foreign populations cannot be a substitute for real diplomacy, that is, talking to others.

But apparently that message has not gotten through yet. Dick Cheney even out of office is still metaphorically shooting people in the face. Senate and house Republicans continue to push for tax cuts and small governement as THE solutions.

3-The timing of Judd Gregg’s withdrawal. More here…

So what should Obama do?

Don’t fight back. You only end up covered in mud which is what Republicans want. Obama has campaigned on “Change” and bipartisanship. He should stick to his current approach as long as he has an advantage in the house and some room to maneuvre in the Senate. Mid-term elections will dictate in which direction the citizenry wants him to take the nation.

Ok let me pull an Obama here: “I screwed up!”

I wrote a few days ago that I thought Tom Daschle would be confirmed as HHS Secretary despite his problems. Well, we all know what happened yesterday.

I also said I thought having a Republican as Commerce Secretary would allow the Dems to finally get their filibuster proof senate majority because the NH governor would appoint a Democrat.

 Ooops!!!

Well, there is much to repair for the Obama administration with the stimulus package in danger of not passing in the Senate, a new tax-compliant HHS Secretary to find and the Mid-East always on the verge of exploding. And with the unemployment numbers for January coming out on Friday there will be even more alarming data to chew on. But negative situations create the best Presidents: Lincoln had the Civil War, FDR had the Great Depression and WWII, Kennedy had the Bay of Pigs. If Obama manages to get the US out of its current jam, future bloggers will be adding the following phrase to that list I just presented: “Obama had the Economic meltdown of  2008/2009”.

Well, another Obama nominee ran into trouble over unpaid taxes. According to the AP, “Former Senator Tom Daschle filed amended tax returns to report $128,203 in back taxes and $11,964 in interest.” This is to cover back taxes for 2005, 2006 an 2007. This after he was picked by Obama to head the Health Services Department and once the transition team discovered the discrepancy.  This is the exact same issue that arose for Tim Geithner the now Treasury Secretary. This may be less of an issue for Daschle, a veteran of the Senate that many see as highly competent and a diligent public servant. So I think this issue may be a small setback, but he will be confirmed.

The Obama team is also looking the Commerce Secretary post vacated since Bill Richardson withdrew. Late reports from ABC and CNN are now indicating that Republican Senator Judd Gregg from New Hampshire is the front runner for the post. If this is confirmed on Monday, it would be a case of really smart politics for the Obama administration. Because the departure of Gregg would force New Hampshire governor John Lynch , a Democrat to make an appointment. With the shenanigans of the Franken-Coleman race yet to be resolved in Minnesota, this will bring the Democrats closer to the filbuster-proof 60 seats.

Stay tuned…

Obama’s transition team has announced that he will hold a press conference tomorrow at 9:30 am ET to discuss Blagojevich,…ummm … I mean healthcare.

Speculation is that Tom Daschle will be unveiled as Health Secretary since he’s been leading the Transition on Healthcare evangelisation.

Stay tuned…