Friday, February 6, 2009
Personal Aside: Why is Judd Gregg Accepting a Nothing Job? A Good Berth from Which to Dial Up Prospective New Employers The Shallow Pie Tin Award Goes to Mark Brown of The Sun-Times
Quicktell me who the last secretary of commerce was under George W. Bush. Give up? It was Carlos Gutierrez the former CEO of Kellogg. Gutierrez is a nice man who raised a lot of money for Bush and of course he is an Hispanic. He didnt exactly cause the media to tremble with anticipation.
Now let me list the other names of nationally known Commerce secretary stalwarts: William Redfield, Juanita Kreps, Charles Sawyer, Mickey Kantor, Daniel Roper, Donald Evans, Barbara Franklin, C. William Verity, Malcolm Baldrige, Rogers C. B. (Chesapeake Bay) Morton, Frederick Dent, C. R. Smith, Alexander Trowbridge, John T. Connor, Luther Hodges, Frederick Mueller, Lewis L. Strauss, Sinclair Weeks, Jesse H. Jones, Roy Chapin, Sr., Robert Lamont, William F. Whiting, Charles Nagel, Oscar S. Straus, Victor Metcalf, George Coretelyou.
There were a few who were better known. The most famous was Herbert Clark Hoover who went on to become president and begin to implement a dime store version of the New Deal, also signing a high tariff bill and raising taxes which made the depression worse. There was Harry L. Hopkins, once FDRs top hand who had to be gotten rid of after Roosevelts death and who to save his face was plunked over there by Harry Truman. Ron Brown was the African-American chairman of the DNC who elected Bill Clinton who was killed in a plane crash midterm. Averill Harriman the billionaire buddy of FDR and Truman who at age 78 still wanted to serve although he was too old, having been ambassador to the USSR, assistant to two presidents.
He was over the hill but he didnt want to go home to New York and his socialite wife definitely didnt--so he took this sinecure and promptly took a nap in his chair after lunch lasting to about 2:30 p.m. whereupon he asked his secretary if there were any calls for him and being told there were not would allow his driver to take him home in his tax-paid limousine. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr. was an under-secretary. He set his goal realistically: he would make out with every eligible and not so eligible woman on his staff regardless of rank, color and attainment. A minor heart attack almost felled him in mid-pursuit. He still holds in death the all-time Commerce record however.
I was assistant secretary of commerce to a man with huge ego and shriveled self-confidence who was a great wannabeMaurice H. Stans who was indicted for improper fundraising later in the Watergate trial and who beat the rap. He was miffed that he got such a backwater post from Richard Nixon whom he raised tons of money for. Nixon thought Stans obtuse (he was right) and not acclimated to Washington politics (right again). Eliot Richardson was probably the all-time champion at holding down cabinet jobsHEW secretary, attorney general, secretary of defense. He got Commerce in order to throttle down and take stock of himselfand to get over a proclivity for hard drink, but it was at Commerce where he took up drinking as a serious vocation.
Bill Daley had the job given to him by Bill Clinton for which he said ironically thanks a lot-- and started immediately to work the phones to get the hell out of there.
When I started an agency there which still existsthe Minority Business Development agency (MBDA)and was on the way to be fired, I strolled around the huge building and came to a door marked BDSA. I asked what BDSA stood for. The answer from a bureaucrat was Business and Development Services Administration. I asked what it did. He said it is a $59 million agency was formed originally as the War Production Board in World War II and has as its mission the long-range study of what to do with businesses if they are attacked by World War II planesi.e. Japanese Zeros. The agency hasnt been updated since then and still has people coming to work at 9 a.m. and checking out at 5 p.m. after working on a relic. I asked since I was from the food industry what plans did BDSA have for its survival. He told me they were okay but they stopped just about at the end of the war before frozen foods came in.
So there you have it, campers.
My question is: why does Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire want this job? It is absolutely a zero. Under its purview it has the Census Bureau, the Weather bureau, rows upon rows of droning bureaucrats toiling at outdated equipment, working on trade and foreign domestic investment and that livewire humming center of vital intellectual activitythe U.S. Patent Office? The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration which tells you more about the ocean currents than you want to know. It also has the citys aquarium in the Commerce Department basement.
Judd Gregg will take the nothing job because he knows New Hampshire now is a Democratic party dead-end and he is supposed to run for reelection next year. He is slated for defeat as a lot of New York refugees have moved in and he wants an honorable way out. He decided that if he determined not to run again hed be in trouble with the GOP but with the unique arrangement made with the Democratic governor to name a so-so mushy Republican, Gregg can get out and allow the balance of the Senate to remain all the while dialing up prospective employers and lining up a CEO job.
About time the media tell us that.
A Race to the Finish.
The Sun-Times has three major contenders for the Shallow As a Pie Tin award. One has won it hands down.
In alphabetical order: Mark Brown, Richard Roeper and Neil Steinberg. Let me take the two lesser ones now. Roeper is an overage supposed young brave who has been hired oh long about 15 years ago to relate to the young hedonist swingers which the papers management then hoped would be in abundance. He is vacuous but courted Roger Ebert so that for a time he and Ebert made a lot of money reviewing films. Unlike Ebert, Roeper has no background at all in film reviewing but when he appeared with Ebert he looked pleasant enough on TV. Now that Ebert is sick and cant do TV I dont know what is happening to Roeper and dont care. His column is filled with banal clichés, lefty musings and non-essential trivia.
The next ranking contender is Neil Steinberg who never tires of reminding us he is a Jew. Hes probably not observant doesnt write like it but he is a virulent anti-Catholic which is supposed to get him in good with the youngish crowd that doesnt care for moral absolutes: like Steinberg, with the exception, of course, of Israel. Hes a better writer than any of the three but he is running out of gas and mercifully hell be writing for The Reader one of these days.
But the winner and all-time champion of the Shallow as a Pie Tin award is Mark Brown whose column yesterday is unrivaled for obtuseness and blind partisanship. Brown is supposed to be supposed to be a political writer. His writing style looks like he scribbles it with a crayola encased in a tight fist. And his analysis?
Anyone anyone who sees the decadence of Chicago and Cook county government now state government should understand that this comes from the unutterable intellectual poverty generated by one party government. I dont know whether Paul Vallas will actually come back to run for president of the county board as a Republican (I understand he signed a new contract with the New Orleans schools) but youd think even the Number 1 Shallow as a Pie Tin awardee in journalism would understand that anyone who wants to breathe life into the corpse of the Republican party should be salutednot ridiculed. Not political hack Brown. A mindless Democrat who grovels at the party trough whose writings should be printed on soft paper and rolls, he links Vallas an incomparably fine administrator with Ed Vrdolyak who switched parties and who is on his way to jail.
God help us. Michael, are you running things over there at all?