'Newsless' Vacation Yields Controversies
By Ben Pershing
As President Obama's "vacation" began Sunday, his spokesman reassured the traveling press corps, "Nobody's looking to make any news." Within the next 36 hours, aides leaked Obama's plan to reappoint Ben Bernanke as Fed chairman, Eric Holder named a prosecutor to investigate Bush-era interrogation practices and the CIA's Inspector General released a graphic report on the same subject.
Obama plans to announce the Bernanke appointment at 9 a.m. ET on Martha's Vineyard, ratifying a choice that had been mostly expected and will likely cheer the markets. "White House officials said that Mr. Obama had effectively decided four or five weeks ago that he wanted Mr. Bernanke to continue, and that he formally discussed the job with him last week at a meeting with the Fed chairman in the White House," the New York Times writes, adding that Obama did not offer the job to anyone else, though other names like Larry Summers, Janet Yellen and Roger Ferguson were rumored. "A move by Mr. Obama to install his own person at the Fed might have have rattled markets and unsettled the foreign investors," reports the Wall Street Journal, which also quotes Rahm Emanuel saying Obama credits Bernanke with "pulling the economy back from the brink of depression." (Note that it's Emanuel delivering the message once again, rather than Summers or Tim Geithner or Robert Gibbs, but that's another story.)
Stability seems to be the word of the day. "You can certainly argue that Bernanke made mistakes, both in failing to spot the housing bubble and in his handling of the Wall Street collapse last autumn," the Economist judges, while "the standard argument for retaining Bernanke is that he avoided a repeat of the Great Depression. ... Perhaps the more practical argument is that, with sentiment still fragile, replacing Bernanke might have damaged the fledgling recovery." Bernanke's reappointment has already been blessed by Chris Dodd, and so the Fed chairman should have a relatively smooth confirmation aside from the complaints of some critics.
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Posted at 8:14 AM ET on Aug 25, 2009
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