Tim Geithner: “Bankers’ poodle, Obama’s pet” — Andrew CockburnPosted: November 7, 2010
In the comments on the Sunday links thread, we were discussing the shortage of leftist intellectuals these days, and then coincidentally I came across this piece at Counterpunch by Andrew Cockburn, who is a long-time nonconforming leftist like Noam Chomsky. In this recent article, he claims to be breaking some inside info about the recent shakeup on Obama’s economic team.
If Barack Obama needed any help in guiding the Democratic Party over the cliff he certainly got it from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Voters have told pollsters that the state of the economy, their own in particular, was their principle concern. Though impelled by the specter of unemployment and homelessness, the image of Geithner, toady to the bankers, can only have encouraged them in their fury. A sensible president would therefore already be running out the plank prior to giving this disastrous financial overseer an encouraging shove between the shoulders. But in this case, we may not be that lucky. CounterPunch can reveal the crucial role played in these matters by a group close to the President but unknown to the outside world.
A knowledgeable insider told Cockburn that despite Larry Summers’ reputation as a corporate tool,
“Larry has some idea that there is more to the economy than just the welfare of large banks,” this official suggests. “He did push for a larger stimulus and more jobs programs, for example. Tim just cares about banks.”
Cockburn claims that Summers’ firing was prompted by a little-known group of rich African Americans who dislike Summers because of his conflicts with Cornel West when Summers was president of Harvard. After a long dispute between the two, West left Harvard to join the Princeton faculty.
So who are the people in this group that has so much influence on Obama?
“These are the people Obama likes to hang out with. He plays poker with them, and takes their advice on financial matters” a former White House official told me. “They hate Summers for one simple reason: they think he’s a racist. They have never forgiven him for Cornel West [the eminent black scholar contemptuously ejected from Harvard by Summers when the latter was President of the university.]”
According to Cockburn, one of these influential men is George W. Hayward, a hedge fund executive who “has led Obama financially astray in the past.”
While Haywood and his pals were dissing Summers, Obama had come to actually like Geithner. Who knows why? Perhaps the life-long financial bureaucrat is good at explaining financial arcana to the innumerate chief executive, or maybe he is just adept at flattery. In any event, the relationship goes back some way. “Obama decided on Geithner for his Treasury Secretary in August 2008,” one former Treasury official told me, “probably at the urging of Mike Froman, acting on behalf of Rubin, Weill and Prince.”
Hmmm…I’d love to know who Haywood’s “pals” are. Maybe we can figure something out from that Muckety chart, linked above–or maybe Dakinikat knows something?
There is one more interesting tidbit in this gossipy article:
Once installed in the Treasury Secretary’s commodious office, Geithner’s first public address panicked the market into a 700 drop within ten minutes of his opening his mouth – even though he was announcing another bank bailout. Though Rahm Emanuel reportedly insisted thereafter that all of the Treasury Secretary’s announcements be cleared with him, the bond with Obama was unaffected. Perhaps, at this late date, the hapless president may be realizing that this was a mistake.
I wonder if Timmy was displacing Rahm in Obama’s affections too?
Discuss, or use this as an open thread if you wish.