I guess that I should preface this by noting that this is not a CT diary. This is instead a "Blithering idiot (me) reads one article, and freaks out." diary.
RJ Eskow looks at the word on the street regarding potential replacements for Bernanke as Fed Chair, and concludes that:
- Obama would really like to appoint Larry Summers as Fed Chairman, but pushback over Summers' personality, sexism, corruption (cough Andrei Shleifer cough), and abrasive manner make this increasingly unlikely.
- The last time that this happened, Obama responded by appointing a bigger tool of Wall Street (and a bigger tool generally) Timothy Geithner.
- That if Obama does not choose Geithner, he will choose someone very much like Geithner.
In a word, bad. In 11 words: Democrats would be insane to let the President nominate Larry Summers. Why?Pardon me while I freak out.
Women voters are critical to the party's prospects. Dave Johnson has rounded up some of the worst evidence of Summers' seeming misogyny, and it's not pretty. What's more, the President would be choosing -- and his party would be confirming -- a man with a bad reputation for sexism, and they'd be bypassing a highly qualified female candidate to do it.
Janet Yellen would be breaking a glass ceiling as the first female Fed chair. A Summers nomination would feel like ground glass.
Everybody hates Larry. Women aren't alone in their dislike of Summers. Conservatives hate him because he's a Democrat. Clean-government advocates hate him because he deregulated Wall Street, took millions from it, then went back into government. Progressives hate him because he killed much-needed regulation and represented big banks' interests while he was in government. Biologists hate him because he distorts their findings to support his misogyny. Many human beings reportedly hate him just for being himself.
And since women are also conservatives, progressives, clean-government advocates, biologists, and human beings -- since, in fact, all those categories have significant overlap -- the Summers-loathing has the potential to grow exponentially over the next three years.
He lacks credibility. Fairly or not, Summers is inextricably associated in the public mind with the evils that crashed the economy: deregulation, the revolving door, and corporate-Democratic indifference toward the poor and the dying middle class. (Republicans, by contrast, are openly hostile.)
All-male chorus lines work better in Off Broadway musicals than they do in policy. The President's team is badly in need of more female representation, and nowhere more so than economically. Yet with the exception of Christina Romer -- who, like other women, was reportedly bullied and marginalized by Summers -- the President's economic team has been almost exclusively male.
We can't know that, of course, but there are several possibilities:
They didn't see it coming.. It's possible that, while the White clearly knew Summers has enemies, the depth of the blowback has surprised them. It may be continuing to surprise them on a daily basis, and they may be hoping it will fade away as quickly as it appeared.
They have a Plan B. They've got somebody lined up -- somebody other than Yellen, that is -- if they can't push Summers through the nomination process (a procedure which is increasingly starting to resemble the process by which a python digests a pig).
That last possibility is the one we should really be worried about. The last time Summers was up for a White House job, we got Geithner instead. He was worse than Summers would have been, at least on policy. But the White House was able to tell several key constituencies "We heard you," while actually selecting an even more pro-Wall Street candidate.
Don't discount the possibility that we'll see a similar bait and switch routine here. The President and his team could bypass both Summers and Yellen, toss a Geithner type in our lap (it might even be Geithner himself), and score a political victory while tacking further right on economic policy.
We're not saying that a bait-and-switch will happen. But if it does, remember: You read it here first.
Does anyone out there understand that the Federal Reserve's primary failure in the runup to the meltdown was a failure to engage in good faith regulation of finance?
And Timothy Geithner is looking like a possible Fed Chair appointment.
Seriously, you would have to appoint Phil Gramm to make a worse choice for Fed Chairman.