It’s natural for someone to lose a job and then say it really wasn’t important and desirable any way. That’s kind of the sound of Associated Press reporter Charles Babington made in a defensive news analysis on Friday after Sen. Judd Gregg withdrew his nomination as commerce secretary. "Obscure post gives Obama big headache" was the headline. The analysis began:
Quick, who headed the Commerce Department under President George W. Bush?
No disrespect to Carlos M. Gutierrez, but commerce secretary is not one of Washington's more glamorous jobs. It's overshadowed by first-tier Cabinet posts at Justice, State, Defense and Treasury. Scores of senators, House members, Supreme Court justices and White House aides would draw more attention at a Georgetown cocktail party or Dupont Circle restaurant.
This might be true, but it wasn’t the emphasis during the brief Bill Richardson nomination that preceded the Gregg drama. When he was named, a December 3 AP report by Liz Sidoti made it sound like a job for a leader:
President-elect Barack Obama selected New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson as his commerce secretary Wednesday, naming a prominent Hispanic to his new Cabinet and calling him a leading "economic diplomat for America" in troubled times.
When news broke of Richardson’s withdrawal on January 4, see the AP pattern in the sympathetic headline that followed: "Richardson's public life imperfect but resilient."
(Hat tip on Babington from Cam Edwards.)