Larry Summers is not long for the White House, says Josh Green. As Josh notes, I expressed some scepticism–puzzlement might be a more apt word–about his earlier Atlantic profile of Tim Geithner (it’s a fine article, by the way: be sure to read it). This was not because I was surprised to learn of tensions in Obama’s over-populated team of economics stars. That had always seemed likely. And it was not because I question Geithner’s abilities (presentational talents aside), which the piece rightly celebrates. I just found it hard it to believe that Summers would accept being sidelined to the extent the article suggested he had been. My thinking was, if it really is that way, why is Summers still there?
Perhaps I am about to get my answer. If he does go, the administration will be losing an extraordinary talent. And I wouldn’t be inclined to blame Summers for the fact that it did not work out. Josh says:
Summers always seemed a bad fit for NEC director because the job entails dispassionately presenting the president with the counsel of his competing economic advisers. Summers doesn’t do “dispassionate” and he didn’t want to limit himself to fielding others’ advice–he had plenty of his own to offer.
Hiring Larry in the hope he would be a self-effacing conduit for others’ ideas, if that is what happened, was absurd.