Tuesday, January 6, 2009

In Santa Fe, Staying Can Also Be Such Sweet Sorrow

Pay to play? I am quite sorry to see Bill Richardson go. Many others are, too; many, it seems, are not.

The conversations inside one adobe-walled office after another in New Mexico’s state capital could be summarized in two words: He’s back.

Some said it with pleasure, some with irritation, some with such caution that they tried to let their voices betray no emotion. Gov. Bill Richardson’s withdrawal on Sunday as the choice for commerce secretary in an Obama cabinet brings an outsize political personality back to a small town in a small state, both of which had already begun planning to proceed without him.

Shy and retiring, he is not; that can be irritating, surely.

Mr. Richardson has dominated state government by force of personality and a single-minded pursuit of economic development and raising the state’s profile — along with his own. But now, things are not quite the same.

An investigation into "pay for play" might have delayed his confirmation. Yet I am left wondering why the Obama team didn't catch this earlier, and why Richardson didn't mention it.

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