Top of the Ticket:

New Mexico Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson withdrew his name as Commerce Secretary-designate this afternoon for the new administration of President-elect Barack Obama.

With an almost audible sigh of relief barely two weeks before his inauguration Obama, in a printed statement that won’t provide archival video footage, said he accepted the resignation-before-actually-taking-office “with deep regret.”

And 16 days before becoming president, Obama sought to turn the PR smudge and federal probe of Richardson, his first Latino Cabinet pick, and his government into a patriotic plus: “It is a measure of his willingness to put the nation first that he has removed himself as a candidate for the Cabinet in order to avoid any delay in filling this important economic post at this critical time.”

It may also be a measure of the inadequacy of the new Obama administration’s vetting process that it somehow missed or ignored the ongoing and widely-reported grand jury testimony over alleged incidents in 2004 in New Mexico, part of a broad federal investigation of selling state services. It would seem to be an obvious something for the experienced Richardson to include when completing the 63-page questionaire given to potential Obama appointees.

That’s Andrew Malcolm at the L.A. Times. Frankly, I think he underestimates the issue.  At least, he seems to be doing so in public.

Let’s face it; There’s no way that this issue centers around a questionnaire, however answered, and  regardless of how many pages happen to be attached to it.   There’s no way on God’s green earth that Obama and his administration didn’t know that there was a problem surrounding Mr. Richardson, just as they knew there were problems surrounding Hillary Clinton. We must assume Obama and his people knew that there was a problem, but ignored it.
The only other option that we have, is to believe that Obama and his people really are that stupid, and that disconnected,  and that they really didn’t know what the press have been reporting for months about Richardson.  Not only is that not particularly complimentary, but it also doesn’t mesh with the personality we’ve seen of Obama these last two years.  Obama is driven as much by news and public opinion as he is by anything in his life.  His decisions are driven as much by the finger gauge as anything.  As such, it defies belief that nobody on Team Obama knew what was up with these two.  In both cases, in that of Bill Richardson, and in the case of Hillary Clinton, (and, we suspect, more besides, to be revealed soon) they ignored these problems, thinking that they could get away with them, if only everyone just remained quiet about them.

As it is now, with these problems so exposed, Mr. Obama is now about trying to get himself positioned in front of the howling Lynch mob  so as to make it look like it’s a parade that he’s leading.  This is a quality that we noted several times over the years in Bill Clinton. Frankly, it is not surprising at all to find that same quality in Mr. Obama.

Apparently, the lesson to take away from all of this, is that this is the kind of “leadership” we’re going to be exposed to for the next four years.

And the guy’s not even sworn in yet.

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