Friday, February 13, 2009

Judd Gregg has more honor than Barack Obama

The Census Bureau should be a purveyor of accurate data, not a shill for socialism:

The Census Bureau, which is part of Commerce, is one of the most rigorously nonpartisan operations in government and for years has fought off pressure from left-wing minority factions to adjust its count upward on their behalf. Successions of bureau directors have resisted this pressure.

The Obama White House, however, indicated that it might be willing to involve itself more directly in the Census Bureau, with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs claiming "historical precedent" for a closer association. This put Mr. Gregg in an impossible situation. It is bad enough that one of the Senate's famous straight arrows had his integrity questioned. Equally impossible, the White House's expressed willingness to bring the Census director under the informal sway of, say, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel effectively undermined the authority Mr. Gregg would have needed to run his department.

President Obama could have resolved this mess by telling Senator Gregg that as always the Census Bureau would report only to the Commerce Secretary. Instead, Mr. Gregg withdrew, with Press Secretary Gibbs issuing a rather ungracious statement that Senator Gregg's "change of heart" was to blame.

This is a telling moment. The rift over Census methodology is a long-running controversy. It looks as if Mr. Obama, under pressure from the left, has let a second-order issue cause a highly visible and much-applauded Cabinet nomination to collapse. Anyone else thinking of joining President Obama's "team of rivals" will take note.

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