Tim Geithner's honorable unpopularity
David Cho has a nice piece today talking to Timothy Geithner about why nobody likes him. Geithner's explanation is convincing, so far as it goes: He held office at a time when the right things to do were also unpopular to do. The fact that he's done a good job doesn't mean the public isn't angry about the job he's had to do.
What I don't understand -- forgive me, Brad DeLong -- is the argument for keeping Geithner much beyond this point. It's true that whoever served in that chair during the worst of the banking crisis is going to be a compromised figure. That makes the public service they provided all the more laudable, and all the more valuable. History will likely judge Geithner very well. But he's a less effective official today because he has so little public credibility. Just as you needed someone who was willing to be unpopular to do the unpopular things, you might well need someone popular who can manage the transition to doing the popular things. The problem is that I don't know of anyone who is widely considered able to do the job, confirmable to the job, and who is, or would be, popular.
Photo credit: Melina Mara/The Washington Post.
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