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Now that the failed nomination of Senator Judd Gregg as Secretary of Commerce has called renewed attention to the importance of who runs the census, a bureau in the Commerce Department, it is time for the Obama Administration to intensify the search for a U.S. Census director.

In the past, census directors have generally been low-key bureaucrats.  But this time, it would be good if that were not the case.

A big-name director of the U.S. Census would call renewed attention to it, and make being counted in the U.S. Census a major topic of discussion around the country.  It would enable local grass-roots efforts, and give the army of short-term census workers a real espirt de corps.

Would Oprah Winfrey be available?  How about Caroline Kennedy?  Bill Clinton? Jesse Jackson? Jimmy Carter? Al Gore?

It's time for people in the White House to start brainstorming and come up with a serious strategy to make the 2010 census count a subject of ordinary conversation among Americans.

The Census Bureau is not just an ordinary bureau.  It is a key agent of American empowerment. Nothing like appointing a household name to head that bureau would better make that point.

Nothing like appointing a household name would integrate the Washington-based bureaucracy with breaking through the indifference of all too many Americans to the development of statistics which shape federal aid and representation in the U.S. House, all 50 state legislatures, and the many local governments with district election systems.

Originally posted to State Rep Mark Cohen Dem PA on Fri Feb 13, 2009 at 02:08 AM PST.


Should a household name be appointed to head the Census Bureau?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (19+ / 0-)

    If you think this diary is worthwhile, please leave a tip.

    Comments are always welcome and deeply appreciated.


    by State Rep Mark Cohen Dem PA on Fri Feb 13, 2009 at 02:10:11 AM PST

  •  You are reading my mind! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsibiades, Floande

    To the average person, it's "Commerce--What's Commerce?" If you pulled that agency apart and re-assigned the responsibilities, then temporarily assigned a really, really competent "name" to the census two years out of every ten, people might pay attention. I wouldn't choose someone highly political like Jackson, but someone who is well known for absolutely competent statistics.

  •  Judd Gregg (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chrome327, elsibiades

    If I am understanding this correctly, the interpretation Republican style, is to do everything to 'not' count the 'unaccountable', the 'lesser element' amongst us.  Judd Gregg was to be the point man in charge of the Census, but when that responsibility was likely to be taken away, he thought it prudent to disassociate himself from the Obama administration?

    A honest census taker who takes the job of counting each and every person, regardless of party affiliation would be fine with me.

    "Man's life's a vapor Full of woe. He cuts a caper, Down he goes. Down de down de down he goes.

    by JFinNe on Fri Feb 13, 2009 at 02:37:36 AM PST

  •  Great idea--I love the notion of... (0+ / 0-)

    Jesse Jackson being in charge of this, actually; it would be a logical extension of his longtime efforts, not only his own operation but all the way back to voter registration drives with King, et al. I think he'd also have great credibility with many under-represented groups traditionally suspicious or at least skeptical of the census. And it's time for him to be part of an administration.

    However, while I love the idea, I think he would be too divisive a figure, too easily painted as polarizing and partisan by the freaky ranting winguts of the Wrong. Whatever he devised and came up with, they would use his profile as an excuse to demonize and discredit.

    He also doesn't have vast political capital, or sway with elected powers, it seems to me.

    So maybe a more neutral humanitarian would be a better bet. Former Mayor and Ambassador Andrew Young, perhaps? If George Mitchell weren't otherwise engaged, he'd be a solid candidate. It would be great to see Dr. Dean get this if they won't bite the bullet and put him at HHS, but in some ways he'd have the same trouble as Jackson without some of the advantages.

    Mondale probably has the integrity, but is old and seems to have zero Washington cred. Carter is a lightning rod still.

    How about someone like Steve Jobs?

  •  Doesn't adding Jesse Jackson require... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fl1972, theKgirls

    ...adding a "snark" tag?

    We must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

    by Minerva on Fri Feb 13, 2009 at 03:09:43 AM PST

  •  Who's the head... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...of ACORN?
    Now that would really set the cat amongst the pigeons!

  •  A different notion (0+ / 0-)

    in shplik's diary

    A leading technologist for a Department that has many technically oriented divisions.

    * Bureau of Industry and Security
      * Economics and Statistics Administration
            o Bureau of the Census
            o Bureau of Economic Analysis
      * Economic Development Administration
      * International Trade Administration
      * Minority Business Development Agency
      * National Institute of Standards and Technology
      * National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
      * National Technical Information Service
      * National Telecommunications and Information Administration
      * Patent and Trademark Office

  •  I don't think Gore wants the job (0+ / 0-)

    As for Oprah Winfrey - I'd rather see a position like that go to someone with government administration experience, rather than being based on celebrity.

    Just one more thought - I can understand where you're coming from with this, but should the director of the census bureau really be someone who's more "high profile" than the Secretary of Commerce?

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