For starters, it’s integrity.

How many Americans even knew who he was before President Obama
tapped him to head the Commerce Department? It’s like Sarah Palin
before her emergence, and in quite another way, Rod Blagojevich. Not
household names half a year ago.

Let’s look at Judd Gregg, the highly regarded senator from New
Hampshire. His appointment was considered very clever and/or shrewd by
the Obama administration because it would accomplish a couple of
things: Add a Republican to the Cabinet for a bit more of a bi-partisan
appearance, and put his senate seat up for grabs in the next mid-term
election. Gregg in that seat would have been re-elected, the prevailing
wisdom had it, but Democrats had a shot with whoever replaced Gregg as
a temporary seatholder.

That’s all changed with Gregg’s stunning announcement
yesterday that he had to step down because of irreconcilable
differences with some of Obama’s policies. He said he first accepted
the position believing he could “bring some views and ideas” that would
help the administration govern in these difficult times.

However, it has become apparent during this process that
this will not work for me as I have found that on issues such as the
stimulus package and the Census there are irresolvable conflicts for
me. Prior to accepting this post, we had discussed these and other
potential differences, but unfortunately we did not adequately focus on
these concerns. We are functioning from a different set of views on
many critical items of policy.

Gregg’s second thoughts give
us an opportunity to focus on just what’s going on with both the
stimulus package and plans to change management of the Census, both
being planned behind closed doors.

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.

Did many Americans know about that plan to put the Census under Rahm Emanuel’s supervision? That’s a big and very consequential move.

Under our Constitution, we must conduct an “actual
Enumeration” every ten years “in such Manner as [Congress] shall by Law
direct.” Congress placed responsibility for conducting the enumeration
in the Bureau of the Census in the Commerce Department.

Politicizing the science of the Census, however, would aid
Democratic efforts to consolidate political control of the country. A
desire to increase political control is the legitimate objective of any
party in power, of course, but Democrats seem much more intent on using
questionable and illegitimate means to do so…

According to Bruce Chapman, a former Census director, if politicians
control the Census, you may well get an order to adjust the Census
count with “samples” and “modeling” that override the scientific
consensus of the statisticians at the Bureau. Another career
professional at the Census Bureau told the Wall Street Journal’s John
Fund that the only reason for such high-level White House involvement
was politics, not science.

After all the promises of ‘no more politics as usual’, we’re seeing
nothing but. And not so much of the promised transparency, as this
stimulus plan gets re-written up to 1,000 pages, not released to
Congress until about 1 am, and only posted online in pdf form making it
nearly impossible to search for key components of the bill. And
pressure is building for a vote on it by end of day today.

Back in his senate seat, Judd Gregg will vote on it, and likely
against it, as Republicans see it as too much too fast for too many
earmarks and too much pork. But Gregg’s voice, in particular, will be important when he speaks out on it.

When he hits the stimulus, or any other administration
economic proposal, what is the Obama camp going to say? That he’s an
ignorant, ideological maniac? They were ready to put him in charge of
the Commerce Department (but not, apparently, the Census Bureau).

He remains a man of integrity, and has emerged as a leader at a time when there are so few.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....