Michelle Obama has got to be my most favorite person in politics. Some people will have told me that she’s not running for a political office and therefore is not a politician. I never said she was. But in the world of politics, spouses and family members of politicians are fair game depending on who you talk to. And Ms. Obama had to spend a great deal of time defending herself against political attacks. Say what you will, that’s the world of politics and she’s neck deep in it. She remains my favorite person in politics.
Now ask me who my favorite politician is and I’d have to give it some thought. But a clear candidate for consideration would probably be New Mexico Governor Bill Richards, the hopefully soon to be confirmed candidate for Secretary of Commerce.
I have to admit to a great deal of regret when President-elect Barack Obama selected New York Senator Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State. I wondered what political deal was negotiated way back when to make Ms. Clinton the best candidate for that job. Not too long ago there was so much talk about the animosity between the Clintons, that includes the former President and probably Chelsea as well, and Mr. Obama. For weeks after Mr. Obama won the Democratic Party’s nomination for the presidency, there was talk about how the two sides would kiss and make up. For weeks Mr. Clinton was held under a magnifying glass for any sign that he would support Mr. Obama’s bid for the presidency. No doubt a lot of negotiating was going on to assure that Ms. Clinton got a high profile spot in the Obama cabinet. Such is the world of politics. People have to play the game of deals to the country’s expense. And so getting the best person for the job takes a backset to paying people back.
When I heard that Mr. Richardson put the good of the country higher than his personal friendships with the Clinton’s I was pleasantly surprised. When Mr. Richardson stood at the podium and put his political weight behind Mr. Obama I was compelled to trust the man’s integrity and judgment. It would have been easier to just go along with his buddies. But the man realized the good of the entire country was at stake and that favoritism, cronyism, buddy-ism, and such had to take a back seat to patriotism.
Mr. Richardson expended a serious amount of political clout with his political endorsement. Many people labeled him a traitor. I bristled every time I heard someone attack him. One Democratic political pundit deep in the Clinton’s pocket went on national television to vent his anger and spew his venom by calling Mr. Richardson a modern day Judas. Now I know that a certain amount of political grandstanding is par for the course these modern days. But nevertheless it remain worth asking since when did someone putting the best interest of the country ahead of the interest of friendship become synonymous to being a traitor? If anything, the very opposite is true. Mr. Richardson gives me the impression that he’s a person who would be more than willing to take one for the team. He’d take one for his country.
Whether or not Mr. Richardson’s pick as Mr. Obama’s Secretary of Commerce represents a consolation prize brings up an issue that entirely misses the point. Mr. Richardson has been asked to serve his country and I have little doubt he will serve to the best of his ability. Mr. Richardson serving as Secretary of Commerce is no more a consolation prize than Ms. Clinton serving as Secretary of State. Does anybody remember that it was Ms. Clinton that offered Mr. Obama the Vice President’s spot and a chance to learn from her experience if he would just quit his first place position in the race to the White House and submit himself to his opponent bringing up the rear.
Regardless of what role he plays America could do far worse without Mr. Richardson as a part of our executive administration. I know I will look forward to a brighter future with Mr. Richardson helping to set policy. And knowing Mr. Richardson is willing to take a few hard lumps and let friends down to do what’s best for everyone’s interest only gives me more faith in his ability to carry out his job. At the beginning of this article I said that I didn’t have a favorite politician. “Favorite politician” is an oxymoron right up there with peacekeeper missile or President Bush. But the more I think about Bill Richardson the more I think there are rare exceptions where a favorite politician could actually be a no brainer.