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Will Timothy Geithner be whatever America needs him to be?

PH2009121002019.jpgTimothy Geithner on whether he's afraid of being fired:

I spent most of my professional life in this building. Watching the politics of the things we did in the past financial crises in Mexico and Asia had a powerful effect on me. The surveys were 9-to-1 against almost everything that helped contain the damage. And I watched exceptionally capable people just get killed in the court of public opinion as they defended those policies on the Hill. This is a necessary part of the office, certainly in financial crises. I think this really says something important about the president, not about me. The test is whether you have people willing to do the things that are deeply unpopular, deeply hard to understand, knowing that they're necessary to do and better than the alternatives. We'll be judged on how we dealt with the things that were broken in the country. We broke the back of the worst financial panic in three generations, more effectively and at a much lower cost than I think anybody thought was possible.

In this telling, the role of the Treasury Secretary is a lot like the role of Batman at the end of 'Batman: The Dark Knight.' Which is not to say it's wrong.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari.

By Ezra Klein  |  December 28, 2009; 7:52 AM ET
 
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Comments

Urgent: now Baucus' speech problems have surfaced on Drudge. A recent video of him is posted. For Baucus' own sake, and that of the senate, this man must be removed from his post and taken to a hospital. How can he hold the position he does?

Posted by: truck1 | December 28, 2009 8:19 AM | Report abuse

This is a classic logical fallacy that you see in nutball inventors and pseudoscientific cranks. People persecuted Galileo and laughed at the Wright Brothers. Ergo, if people think you're crazy you must be a genius.

It's funny how the misery introduced into tens of millions of other people's live by making "hard" economic decisions is entirely counterbalanced by the fact that the person making the decision has to endure being publicly disliked.

Posted by: paul314 | December 28, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

I would be interested to know if he made this comment before or after Gretchen Morgenson's "smoking gun" story in the NYTs on Christmas Eve...

talk about burying a story or what?


Banks Bundled Bad Debt, Bet Against It and Won

By GRETCHEN MORGENSON and LOUISE STORY
Published: December 24, 2009

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/24/business/24trading.html?_r=1&scp=3&sq=goldman+sachs&st=nyt

Posted by: hughmaine | December 28, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

I'd say Geithner's definition of success is a bit too narrow.

What he did, and for all I know succeeded in, was bail out the bankers. It didn't help average people. In fact, it did the exact opposite since the current system which Geithner takes such pride in saving is weighed heavily towards the captains of finance.

Posted by: leoklein | December 28, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

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