Obama lacks confidence in his Secretary of Commerce-designate

President Obama reveals that his sly attempt to appear bipartisan by nominating Republican Senator Judd Gregg to be Commerce Secretary is nothing more than pure partisan politics.

In an effort to mollify ruffled feathers of “black and Hispanic leaders” about Gregg’s commitment to funding the 2010 census, Obama has already decided to clip the wings of his Secretary of Commerce-designate:

The director of the Census Bureau will report directly to the White House and not the secretary of Commerce, according to a senior White House official.

“Funding the 2010 census” is Democrat code for cooking the census books.

The CQ article points out that Gregg battled with President Clinton over “emergency” funding for the 2000 census. Michael Barone fills in some of the detail:

Ten years ago the Clinton administration attempted to use sampling instead of an actual headcount for the Census enumeration which is used for reapportioning the House of Representatives and for redistricting of all kinds. It was resisted by the Republican Congress, notably by Florida Congressman Dan Miller, who chaired the relevant House subcommittee. And it was finally abandoned after career Census Bureau statisticians, who like most professional statisticians prefer sampling to headcounts, conceded that they could not guarantee that the sampling procedures they proposed to use would be more accurate than a headcount.

I have expected Democrats to attempt to use sampling again, and Republicans no longer have majorities in Congress. But Gregg could exercise an important supervisory role here, by at least insisting on the kind of statistical rigor that Census Bureau career statisticians showed they had when the Clinton administration (in my view) contemplated cooking the numbers.

The idea of course was to draw on the fact that headcounts tend to undercount minorities (though the 2000 Census did so less than in the past) and to impute huge numbers of black and Hispanic residents, thus giving Democrats more congressional and state legislative seats.

Obama’s co-option of Gregg isn’t about bipartisanship. Removing Gregg from the Senate is a very partisan effort to give the Democrats a leg up in the 2010 Senate campaign. So as not to be an impediment to the Democrats’ scheme, Bonnie Newman, New Hampshire Democrat Governor John Lynch’s designated replacement for Gregg’s vacancy to be, had to agree not to run for election in 2010:

Lynch said Newman has agreed to serve only the remaining two years of Gregg’s six-year Senate term. Gregg’s departure is expected to make the seat more competitive next year for Democrats.

If President Obama isn’t going to let his Secretary of Commerce-designate do the job of Commerce Secretary, Senator Gregg should reconsider and remain in the Senate where he is allowed to oppose such power grabbing schemes.