Friday, November 21, 2008

For Treasury, Geithner Said to Be Choice; Wall St. Cheers

I was rooting for Geithner. Summers's brilliance can't be denied, nor will it be wasted, but Geithner is a magnificent choice. Same age as Obama (though at 53, merely 6 years older than the other two, Summers can hardly be called old), he has attributes which work: he has a great deal of experience (a Summers protege from the days Larry worked for President Clinton; president of the New York Fed); Wall Street likes and respects him; he represents continuity; and he represents change. Brilliant choice.

A phrase jumped out at me from the story on the Times website this evening; the article discusses the influence and protégés of Robert Rubin (Treasury Secretary under President Clinton, Goldman Sachs alum, centrist):

Michael Froman, Mr. Rubin’s former Treasury chief of staff and Mr. Obama’s classmate at Harvard Law School, is heading the economics personnel search for the transition. Mr. Froman’s head-hunting deputy is Mr. Rubin’s son, James Rubin.

Obama's Harvard Law classmate; Rubin's former chief of staff. Obama is part of the nation's elite by virtue of his Harvard Law degree, and he's tapping his network for his transition and Administration, as he tapped it for contributiond and support for his candidacies.

More and more it becomes apparent that Obama is center-left, the emphasis on center, and not left of it; that he has extensive contacts, and that his organizational skills are superb. That is one of the details that impresses me most: his campaign for the nomination, his campaign for the Presidency, and his transition and Cabinet-building, are all prime examples of magnificent organization.

Palin derided Obama's experience as a community organizer, and some of the masses responded lustily to the insult: community organizer was used as code for black, urban, and poor, as well as liberal, means to insult the urban poor and those who work to help them, liberal intellectuals.

Clearly the ability to organize efficiently is being shown to be a valuable skill. In his campaigns, and now in his transition to the Presidency, Barack Obama is showing his mettle.

Yet it is not only the Republican right wing that derides centrist Rubinism, to coin a term.

The Rubin wing of the Democratic Party has long been disparaged by liberals and union leaders as being too concerned with balanced budgets and free trade. But much of the ideological tension in the party has dissipated as the economy has weakened, and Mr. Obama has signaled that he intends to spend what it takes to get the economy back on track.

What Obama is showing is pragmatism. Yes, he tends to move to the slight left of center on some issues, to the left of center on other issues, but his imprint is clear: what works is what will get done.

Mr. Geithner also seems to fit Mr. Obama’s emphasis on “post-partisanship.” Associates say Mr. Geithner is an independent, though he was a Republican when he first was a staff member at the Treasury Department in the late 1980s under Presidents Ronald Reagan nd George Bush. After college, he worked in the New York-based international consulting firm headed by Henry A. Kissinger.

There are those associates again. But I do declare that Gaithner greatly impresses me.

After leaving the Treasury Department, Mr. Geithner worked at the International Monetary Fund until he was hired in 2003 as president of the New York Fed.

How does someone just get hired as the New York Fed President? He must have had some resume. I think highly of him, and think his appointment continues a strong record for the Obama transition of competency, even brilliance (see Clinton, Hillary Rodham).

Larry Downing/Reuters

Timothy F. Geithner of the Federal Reserve Bank.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Lawrence H. Summers might become a senior White House adviser instead of returning to the Treasury Department.

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