by Damozel | At The L.A. Times, a snide Andrew Malcolm writes in "Top of the Ticket":
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."
So....farewell to Bill Richardson and his ambitions to be a part of the Big Change, at least for the present.
The transition team must have been asleep at the wheel on this one. Malcolm snarks on:
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...
While everyone was enjoying their holidays and watching Obama's Hawaiian vacation, word continued to leak that Richardson and his gubernatorial aides are under investigation by a federal grand jury probing the possibility that they steered state bond business to a Beverly Hills firm in return for $100,000 in donations to two Richardson PACs back in 2004.. (LAT)
Or Richardson himself simply didn't anticipate that another Democratic government was going to redefine "business as usual" for all Democratic governors everywhere. (LAT) Even so:
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.
Probably slipped his mind. (Sixty-three pages!)
Which of course doesn't have a thing to do with the merits of the investigation. Wonkette says:
I personally blame Blago for making lavish-yet-totally-unsolicited gestures of gratitude look bad.
Richardson said the investigation would show his innocence but was likely to drag on for weeks or months, affecting the confirmation process and his ability to work in Washington. Not to mention distract the public and media from the desired message of change to believe in. The Blagojevich fight, not so easy for the new administration or Reid to end, is also likely to drag on for weeks or months. (LAT)
The Obama transition team claims that Richardson misled them concerning the ongoing ethics investigation.
Meanwhile---never mind The L.A. Times or Andrew Malcolm--- Obama, as always, said the right things.
If there was an "audible sigh of relief," as Malcolm avers, it came from the transition team, which somehow failed to notice the investigation. Politico more sedately reports:
An Obama ally framed the timing of the move succinctly: “Better to rip the bandage off now.”
It may not amount to much more than a temporary headache, but it’s one that some Democrats saw coming. Richardson has been passed over for vice president in consecutive election cycles and did not get the administration job, secretary of state, that he was widely thought to have desired.
A Senate aide told Politico there had been "nervousness" within the Senate and more specifically the Senate Commerce Committee about the grand jury probe in recent weeks. (Politico)
As one of Obama's officials somewhat tactlessly remarked, this won't disrupt the transition or the discussion on the economic stimulus package proposal. (Politico) Richardson was only going to be Commerce Secretary, not Treasury Secretary or anything.
Somewhere, James Carville---whom Andrew Malcolm suggests would be a good replacement for Richardson---is laughing more demoniacally than ever, though Hillary I am sure is too ladylike and/or too much of a professional politician even to crack a smile.
Meanwhile right-wing scavengers are having to nourish their ire and their appetite for a real Obama scandal to blog about on these very thin scraps, poor things., Roy Edroso notes:
Hey, when you've got nothing else to feed on, you feast on what you find.
I personally expect the unsinkable and unstoppably likable Bill Richardson to emerge unscathed (or scathed only slightly). I still remember his campaign ads during the primaries (here and here) with affection. And while I was disgusted when he threw my girl Hill under the bus for Obama, we're all friends again now!
Better luck next time, Bill Richardson!
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