New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg's decision to abstain from voting February 10 on the economic stimulus bill has not only left officials in Washington confused but has provoked a firestorm of protest in his home state.
When the Manchester Union Leader first reported in a brief, six-graph story that President Obama's nominee for Commerce Secretary had "recused myself from voting during the pendency of my nomination," the reader comments immediately poured in.
Ann, of Ashland, N.H. wrote, "I am very disappointed with SENATOR Gregg's decision. NH's representation has been compromised," followed by Tom of Campton, "Either do your job or resign," and then by Dennis from Merrimack, "I've got this violent urge to hurl! He should consider never returning to New Hampshire. What a disgrace!!!!!"
Some of the sharpest criticism was voiced by Washington-based conservative Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. "You recuse yourself because you have a conflict of interest and if he believes he has a conflict of interest by taking the job, he shouldn't take the job. And if he isn't being bought, then he should feel free to vote and vote against [Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid] when he feels Reid is wrong, even if Obama is with Reid. The point of having a Republican in your Cabinet is that you are saying you are open to different ideas," but that won't happen "if you're folding up your conscience and your New Hampshire interest and your track record into a little suitcase and putting it in a little corner and then doing what you're told."
The Republican Party was hired by the conservative movement to do its bidding and they aren't going to stand for them trying to get out of that contract. Republican politicians are required to stab Democrats in the back in order to stay in good standing. It's how they organize themselves and prove their loyalty. That's what Gregg did today by making Obama look like a chump by saying that he had "too many differences" and can't stomach the stimulus. (And the press office was taken by surprise, which means Gregg really wanted to stick the shiv in hard.) All the gasbags can talk about now is the "principles" he couldn't bear to violate by being part of a Democratic administration.
I think we can officially call the bold experiment in post partisanship a failure at this point. If they can pull this stuff at their greatest moment of weakness, they have no intention of acting in good faith down the road.
I heard earlier that Reid was frantically calling to keep the "centrists" on board because Teddy is very unwell and may not be able to make the vote. I don't know if Gregg's vote plays into that, but let's hope not.
Update: Meanwhile, the polls show that Obama going to the people is working. Support for the recovery plan is growing. Not that is matters in terms of bipartisan cooperation. The Republicans impeached Clinton when his approval rating was above 60%. They don't care about anyone but their dittoheads.
Update II: John Harwood says
"This isn't partisanship in the petty sense. Nobody can accuse Barack Obama or Judd Gregg of being small minded on a personal basis on this issue. And I think what happened is we see how far apart they are. I think this, by the way, makes all those Republicans who voted against the Obama stimulus package feel better about it and look better about it because it allows them to say, look we have fundamental differences of ideology approach with this administration and I thin this is a very, very bad sign for achieving things like entitlement reform and health care reform, both of which everybody said for a long time you need two parties sort of underneath a solution to prop it up and make it long lasting."
And here I thought ideology didn't matter.
Look, this is just nonsense. This isn't an ideological problem. The Republicans spenttaxpayer money like falling down drunken sailors for years. They will spend until they exhaust themselves if it's a Republican administration. So this was certainly partisan in the most small minded, craven sense of the word.