City Desk

Who Needs a Commerce Secretary?

I don't begrudge the Washington Post one bit for putting on page A1 the news of New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg's nom-withdrawal for the post of Secretary of Commerce. I mean, that's the big story of the moment.

But really, who really needs a Commerce Secretary, anyway? Isn't that one spot, folks, where we could achieve some efficiencies?

Quick: What was the most significant accomplishment of Commerce Secretary....Donald Evans...or...Mickey Kantor...or...Philip Klutznick? Yeah, name one! Better yet, name an achievement–any achievement–of any Commerce Secretary in the entire history of the position. And no, leading a trade delegation to Paris and Nice doesn't qualify.

Isn't there someone in the Commerce bureaucracy at this point who could step up as secretary? How 'bout whoever's, like, heading up the International Trade Administration–we need our trade partners more than ever! Or, given our current financial straits, perhaps there's an expert in the Economic Development Administration (EDA) who can step up big-time for the president. If nothing else, we need economic development in this country.

If the job of Commerce Secretary requires writing skills, surely the administration can tap the GSer who wrote this bit of copy on the front of the department's Web site this afternoon:

In response to suggestions from stakeholders in the intellectual property (IP) community that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) adopt a new form of deferred examination procedure, the agency will conduct a public roundtable discussion on the topic on February 12 at the agency’s headquarters in Alexandria, Va.

We need a new Commerce Secretary who'll respond to the stakeholders. So why not hire within?

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  • Karl

    As Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover spearheaded the relief efforts during the Great Mississippi floods of 1927. He coordinated multiple organizations over six different states. Hoover's efforts were largely responsible for curtailing widespread outbreaks of malaria and typhoid among the thousands of homeless.

    Yeah, go feel sorry for yourself for besmirching the great name of Hoover.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    I once got harangued for what felt like hours by someone who felt like Olsson's Books & Records in Old Town, my post-college place of employment, did not measure up to Malcolm Baldridge's standards of quality. The woman would NOT LET ME GO. She must have mentioned Malcolm Baldridge 45 times in the conversation. I still flinch whenever anyone mentions the Commerce Department.

  • Darrow Montgomery

    As a messenger, the Commerce Department building was the worst place to deliver a package, the thing takes up an entire block and I could never guess the right entrance for a given office.

  • don

    President Obama and Rahm Emanuel do not speak of commerce or business but of law, re-election, federal rule and government business partnerships. It is being sold as a new era, but it is the same as the pay for play Clinton, Bush or mayor Daley rewarding their friends and punishing enemies so that the bipartisan Chicago Council is 49 to 1. Fannie and Freddie are typical federal examples. Wait till Emanuel works over the new Census, and Congress will be there too.
    The new Administration would be wise to put pretense aside and call a spade a spade. "I won." Let's call it Secretary of Government Partnerships. And, I nominate that great Illinois orator Governor who was so ably supported by Emanuel, Axelrod and Obama (until the DA leaked some of the Chicago-speak), Blago. He needs the work, and a plum like this would shut him up.