Recall, if you will, the rationale provided by the Obama administration for sticking with Tim Geithner when his tax troubles came to light. No one could possibly replace him, a view also oddly adopted by both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill. Geithner had unique qualifications that no one else could possibly match, and his show of incompetence in tax filings paled in comparison to the disaster that would befall the US and the world if Geithner withdrew.
It turns out that even the Obama administration didn’t buy that argument:
A friend reports chatter within the Obama administration that Tim Geithner was a bad choice for Treasury Secretary and that Quadrangle partner Steve Rattner (currently the car czar) was brought in partly to have a good relief pitcher on hand.
This doesn’t surprise us: We think that, in this crisis, Tim Geithner is clearly the wrong man for the job. But this is also only unconfirmed chatter at this point.
Would Steve Rattner be a better Treasury Secretary than Tim Geithner? Our immediate reaction is yes. Steve has worked on multiple sides of the fence–as a journalist, banker, and investor–and he has a lot more experience than Tim does.
Gee, does that mean that someone else could be Treasury Secretary other than Geithner? Is it possible that we could have found someone else to not come up with a plan and to not hire a staff? Someone who could get their rear end handed to them by the Senate Budget Committee for not doing their homework and failing at math?
Steve Rattner isn’t the only understudy riding the bench. Lawrence Summers, director of Barack Obama’s National Economic Council, actually served as Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton. He would have probably been confirmed by acclamation, especially after the Senate found out about Geithner’s tax problems. Unfortunately, Summers made the mistake of speaking his mind about the possible causes of the gender disparity in mathematics and engineering while running Harvard. Curiously, this became more of a disqualification than Geithner’s tax evasions, which demonstrates the commitment to political correctness over substance in Team Obama.
If Obama has understudies on hand, it’s time to send the diva packing.