Hysterical. Clever, clever Obama. Judd Gregg is a Republican Senator from New Hampshire. The person who would appoint his successor is John Lynch, the Democratic governor.
This is where we see just how "bareknuckle" Obama is. If he wanted, he could use this opportunity to create a Democratic supermajority in the senate and ram through his entire agenda, Parliament-style, Republicans be damned. Or, he could hold out this possibility to Mitch McConnell to extort something big out of the GOP, say a big climate change package or a well-functioning government health insurance program.
My suspicion is that Obama will do neither of these and pass up a golden opportunity for the sake of comity with Senate Republicans, as much as I hate to say it. He may even publicly disavow such a hardball move as a gesture of good faith. I think Obama's a true believer when he talks about bipartisanship. Let's hope his faith in the better angels of the GOP is justified.
The main argument I've heard against the possibility of this happening is the question of Gregg's motivation to go along with something that forever tarnish his name in his own political party. Well, here's his incentive: Gregg's up for re-election in 2010 and under 50% against Democrat Paul Hodes in rapidly bluing New Hampshire. Interesting fact about the 50% mark: those senators who polled above 50% during the year of their re-election in every poll all won their re-elections. Among the incumbents who had even one poll in that entire year show them under the magic 50% mark, fully half lost their elections. And let's not forget that he'll be running in New Hampshire, which booted the other Republican senator from office in November, both of its Republican congressmen, 7 of state senators (out of a total senate of 24), and 102 state representatives (out of a total assembly of 400) in 2006, and just re-elected its Democratic governor with 74% of the vote.
According to the odds, there's a 50/50 chance that Judd Gregg will not be senator in 2011 no matter what he does. Looks like plenty of incentive to me. I imagine that, if this coup doesn't happen, it will have been aborted by the president, not the senior senator from New Hampshire.