They’re spinning this as if it was his decision, but the timing here is awwwwfully convenient. Why, it seems like just yesterday that The One was hinting it might be time soon for Summers and TurboTax Tim to say farewell. Wait — actually, it was just yesterday.
This reminds me of 2006, when Rumsfeld was finally forced out … on the day after the Democrats’ big midterm victory. Obama wants to signal to voters that the team that produced Recovery Summer™ won’t be around to repeat their mistake next year. Too late?
Just to underline the significance of this: the president’s chair of Council of Economic Advisers, Dr. Christina Romer; director of the Office of Management and Budget, Peter Orszag; and now Summers are departing or have departed.
That means as of November or December, three of the four key members of President Obama’s economic team will be gone. (Geithner as of now is expected to stay.)…
An administration official says that when Summers came to the White House, “he told the President that his family would remain in Massachusetts and that he was only prepared to commit to serving for one year.”
Then in the fall of 2009, President Obama asked him to stay on for an additional year, the official says, “in order to see through the passage of financial reform, the continued implementation of the economic recovery program, and the tax reform issues likely to dominate the end of this year. Larry agreed to do so because of the importance of seeing the President’s agenda through.”
Supposedly, it’s because Harvard has a “strict two-year leave policy” for professors’ sabbaticals that Summers has to leave now. Really? They wouldn’t bend the rules for a former president of the university so that he can go on advising the president of the United States? If that’s true, how come we didn’t hear about Summers’s plans to leave long, long ago?
Bloomberg News claims that they might try to smooth things over with Wall Street by appointing a corporate executive — preferably a woman — to replace Summers. Ezra Klein already has a possibility in mind. Exit question: Time to start a pool on Geithner? If Obama’s serious about housecleaning, dumping him would register more deeply with voters, I suspect, than dumping Summers.