The Bill Richardson Debacle: An Epic Fail for Obama

One of my not-so-guilty blogospheric pleasures is Failblog, a site dedicated to chronicling the foibles and fallibility of humankind. As I write this, the front page carries stories of the "Amateur Fireman Fail," "Parking Fail," and "Height Estimation Fail." Perhaps due to especially notable failures, the concept of an "epic fail" has now entered into the lexicon; one hastens to note that epic fails are not solely and exclusively covered by Failblog.

May I posit that the withdrawal of Governor Bill Richardson's name as the nominee to serve as commerce secretary in the incoming Obama administration qualifies as an "epic fail"? Anytime a presidential transition is disrupted by the need to withdraw the name of a nominee for a high-profiled cabinet post, the transition process suffers. Given the nature of the withdrawal and the reasons behind it, the Obama transition has suffered an especially tough blow. Of course, Richardson is not the only symbol of an epic fail around here; the bulk of Barack Obama's economic program is swiftly moving into epic fail territory as well.

Richardson was rewarded both for his decision to endorse Barack Obama during the Democratic presidential nomination contest and for his experience as a former congressman, energy secretary, U.N. ambassador, and governor of New Mexico. But as it turns out, Richardson has something in common with his fellow governor, Rod Blagojevich of Illinois. Just as Blagojevich engaged in a pay-for-play scheme that entailed auctioning off the Illinois Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama to the highest bidder, Richardson got involved in his own pay-for-play scandal. A grand jury in New Mexico is investigating whether Richardson steered state bond business to businessman David Rubin in 2004 in exchange for Rubin having donated $100,000 to two of Richardson's PACs, money that primarily went to cover expenses for Richardson and his staff during their stay at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. In addition, Rubin donated $2,900 to Richardson's campaign for president both in 2007 and in 2008.