A nagging question about Geithner

As Allahpundit noted, Tim Geithner appeared today in his Senate confirmation hearing and attempted to defuse the controversy surrounding his tax failures of the past.  He more or less threw himself on the mercy of the Senate, insisting that the mistakes were unintentional.  Geithner ascribed the failures to his inability to successfully navigate TurboTax — and the Senate seemed content with his excuses.

Perhaps if a nominee of another Cabinet post had this problem, it could be overlooked.  After all, the Secretary of Commerce or HHS doesn’t run the IRS.  However, the Secretary of the Treasury does, and his own serial incompetence at doing his taxes certainly doesn’t recommend him as a qualified candidate for the Treasury.

However, we’re constantly told that not only is Geithner qualified, he’s practically the only person in America who can do the job — by both Democrats and Republicans:

Geithner has broad experience in global economics, financial regulation, currency and monetary policy. And lately, as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, he has been at the center of the government’s efforts to manage the financial chaos, sharing some criticism for its mixed record but not blame.

“These are not the times to think in small political terms,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who just returned from Afghanistan and Pakistan with Vice President-elect Joseph Biden Jr., and briefly met with reporters on Wednesday alongside Obama. “I think he is the right guy.”

Graham thereby validated what the president-elect had just said: That Geithner, by bipartisan agreement, is “uniquely qualified.”

Uniquely qualified?  Meaning that Geithner’s the only person in America who can run the Treasury?  Somehow, I find that extraordinarily difficult to believe.  If for some reason Geithner withdrew, would Obama not fill the role with someone else?  It’s more difficult to believe that a man who couldn’t figure out his own taxes is the best-qualified man for the job.

But let’s take this argument on its face for a moment.  We’re in an economic crisis, and therefore we have to have a man who has experience in the kind of work at the heart of this crisis.  We can’t assign this task to someone who hasn’t worked in the credit-industry trenches and built a record of success.

If that’s true … then why did Obama appoint Leon Panetta to head the CIA?  After all, we’re in a war against terrorists, which I’d say is a fairly serious crisis.  Our national security and the lives of Americans are at stake, as we saw on 9/11.  Using the logic of Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill regarding Geithner, shouldn’t we have a CIA Director that has actually worked in intelligence and built a record of success there?

Because if Leon Panetta can run the CIA, then Barack Obama can find someone else to run the Treasury.