Opinion: Bill Richardson chalks up another Cabinet post for the job resume


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(UPDATE: We got the two Obama-Richardson video challenges unchallenged. They’re over here.)

A beardless Bill Richardson took one more step Wednesday toward capturing a new entry in the Guinness Book of World Records for Most U.S. Cabinet Posts Held Without Actually Becoming President.


President-elect Barack Obama named his former rival for the Democratic presidential nomination to be secretary of Commerce. (We have Obama’s full statement on the jump; click the ‘Read more’ line below.)

Richardson has already been secretary of Energy for the husband of another former rival, Hillary Clinton. But she’s the new secretary of State.

Joe Biden, another senator and another rival of Obama’s, is the vice president-elect, if anyone can find him before Jan. 20.

Richardson, you may recall, is currently the governor of New Mexico, a job he said he liked a whole lot, in the sun and mountains with the horses and stuff, until this new opportunity to leave Santa Fe emerged. The gov already claims a Guinness record for 13,392 glad hands shaken in eight campaign hours, in case you’re keeping track like he is.

Before Santa Fe, Richardson was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, also for Bill Clinton, who may not be talking to the Gov. Bill because a goateed Bill Richardson rejected the ex-president’s plea to endorse his wife and jumped for a perfectly-timed Obama endorsement during ...

... the Democratic presidential primary season when everyone else was giving up.

Some Latino supporters of Latino Richardson, who’s been involved in numerous diplomatic missions over the years, thought he’d be good for the State job. But they’re not president-elect.

So Richardson goes to Commerce, which has often been a political appointment. George W. Bush first filled it in 2001 with his campaign chairman and major fundraiser, Don Evans.

Before the U.N. job, which Obama intends to re-elevate to Cabinet status, Richardson was a member of the House of Representatives. So he’s still got a Senate seat and several other Cabinet jobs to hold before his resume might be officially recognized.


Meanwhile, Richardson describes his new Commerce job as the center of the administration’s economic work, which may come as news to the high-powered economic team named by the same Obama last week. But that’s a power struggle we probably won’t hear much about until the leaks start early next summer or so.

We had planned to have two action-packed videos of the Richardson news conference (Obama, by the way, finally called on a Fox News reporter, Wendell Goler, to ask a news conference question. So you can scratch that off your to-do list.).

One video was a brief, under-two-minute recounting of the Richardson announcement. And the other was the full, nearly 18-minute tape from Chicago’s WGN-TV. You’d have enjoyed either one. Or both. Great color.

Unfortunately, some idiot blogger got a new laptop computer that doesn’t have the right program on it, so he can’t get the videos to work in this Ticket item.

And the Help Desk people in India say they don’t have the authority to do it without someone else’s permission in Los Angeles. And it being after 3 a.m. PST, those other people may be making their own videos in private right now.

Accordingly, despite the supreme importance of a Cabinet announcement that we’ve been predicting for 10 days now, Ticket video presentations are on hold until further notice, although we do have a repair ticket number, whatever that means.


So you’ll have to look over on the right here and click on the Obama-Richardson episodes in the video player that’s always there but hardly anyone uses. It won’t be the same without you. Also, the regular Richardson news story is here, but doesn’t have the suspense of these Ticket items.

--Andrew Malcolm

However, no one needs India’s permission to register here to receive cellphone alerts of each new Ticket item. And/or they can sign up here for RSS feeds.

Photo credits: Associated Press

Remarks of President-Elect Barack Obama Announcing the Appointment of Gov. Bill Richardson as Commerce Secretary, Chicago, Illinois, Dec. 3, 2008

Last week, Vice President-Elect Biden and I began the process of announcing our economic team. Today, we are pleased to name another key member of this team: our nominee for Secretary of Commerce, my friend, Governor Bill Richardson.

With each passing day, the work our team has begun, developing plans to revive our economy, becomes more urgent. Earlier this week, we learned that the U.S. economy has been in recession since December of 2007 and that our manufacturing output is at a 26 year low – two stark reminders of the magnitude of the challenges we face.


But while I know rebuilding our economy won’t be easy – and it won’t happen overnight – I also know this: right now, somewhere in America, a small business is at work on the next big idea. A scientist is on the cusp of the next breakthrough discovery. An entrepreneur is sketching plans for the startup that will revolutionize an industry.

Right now, across America, the finest products in the world are rolling off our assembly lines. And the proudest, most determined, most productive workers in the world are on the job – some, already on their second shift of the day; many, putting in longer hours than ever before.

After nearly two years traveling across this country, meeting with workers, visiting businesses large and small, I am more confident than ever before that we have everything we need to renew our economy – we have the ingenuity and technology, the skill and commitment – we just need to put it to work.

It’s time to not just address our immediate economic threats, but to start laying the groundwork for long-term economic prosperity – to help American businesses grow and thrive at home, and expand our efforts to promote American enterprise around the world.

This work is the core mission of the Secretary of Commerce. And with his breadth and depth of experience in public life, Governor Richardson is uniquely suited for this role as a leading economic diplomat for America.

During his time in state government and Congress, and in two tours of duty in the cabinet, Bill has seen from just about every angle what makes our economy work and what keeps it from working better.


As Governor of New Mexico, Bill showed how government can act as a partner to support our businesses, helping create 80,000 new jobs. And under his leadership, New Mexico saw the lowest unemployment rate in decades.

As a former Secretary of Energy, Bill understands the steps we must take to build a new, clean-energy industry and create the green jobs of the twenty-first century. Jobs that pay well and won’t be shipped overseas – jobs that will help us end our dependence on foreign oil.

And as a former Ambassador to the United Nations, Bill brings both international stature and a deep understanding of today’s global economy. He understands that the success of today’s business in Detroit or Columbus often depends on whether it can sell products in places like Santiago or Shanghai.

And he knows that America’s reputation in the world is critical not just to our security, but to our prosperity – that when the citizens of the world respect America’s leadership, they are more likely to buy America’s products.

To this crucial work of restoring America’s international standing, Bill will bring a leadership style all his own. Bill has never been content to learn just from briefing books – never satisfied with only the official version of the story. During his time in Congress, he held more than 2,500 town-hall meetings, so he could hear directly from constituents.

He was a regular in the U.N. cafeteria, mixing it up with U.N. employees over lunch. And during his 2002 campaign for Governor, he actually broke a world record by shaking nearly 14,000 hands in just eight hours.


All of this reflects a determination to reach out and understand where people are coming from, what they hope for, and what he can do to help. This approach, I believe, has been the key to Bill’s success as a negotiator and will be key to his work on the critical functions of the Commerce Department – from administering our census and monitoring our climate to protecting our intellectual property and restoring our economic diplomacy.

In the end, Bill Richardson is a leader who shares my values -- and he measures progress the same way I do. Are we creating good jobs, instead of losing them? Are incomes growing, instead of shrinking? I know that Bill will be an unyielding advocate for American business and American jobs, at home and around the world. And I look forward to working with him in the years ahead. ###