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Remind me again who Timmy's boss is?

A chilling vignette on Geithner from Portfolio:

Geithner’s many years in the bureaucracy have shaped him in other, less than flattering ways. Bill Seidman, former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., considers the Treasury secretary to be “a smart guy but a certified bureaucrat.” He speaks from firsthand experience. It was the late 1990s, Lawrence Summers was Treasury secretary, and Geithner, as the undersecretary for international affairs, was his loyal deputy. Summers gave a speech on Japan’s troubled banking system, a subject that Seidman, who then worked for Morgan Stanley, knew intimately from his frequent visits to the country. “It was essentially not relevant,” Seidman says of Summers’ speech. It showed “a lack of familiarity with what’s going on there.” Seidman, never a shrinking violet, said as much at the time when a reporter asked him in Japan for a comment—at which point he ran afoul of Geithner. According to Seidman, Geithner called him and said, “You’re a disloyal American. You can’t make statements like that on foreign soil about a secretary of the Treasury.”

Seidman, who was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in the U.S. Navy during World War II, wasn’t accustomed to having his loyalty questioned, certainly not by someone approximately 40 years his junior. “I said, ‘Where does it say that in the Constitution?’?” Seidman tells me.

That episode provides a peek into Geithner’s character and offers up clues to his behavior during the current crisis. Seidman hadn’t been confronted by Geithner, the precocious junior official of his early years, or Geithner, the brilliant problem grasper he was reported to be as he matured at Treasury. Instead, he encountered Geithner, the government cog, who apparently served his mentor Summers with such unquestioning fealty that he was willing to upbraid a well-reputed private citizen for an offhand remark.

Seidman says he bears Geithner no ill will, but he has no illusions about what he witnessed. Geithner, he says, “was doing what his boss wanted, I assume. Everybody is a product of what they’ve done. I have high respect for bureaucrats, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to have the leadership quality needed when they get to be something like secretary of the Treasury—particularly now.”


As the article later points out, Geithner has a constituency of one....

NOTE So Geithner is in, and Paul Volcker isn't just out, but frozen out. I hold no brief for Volcker's policies, but he's well-respected, perhaps even feared, by the banksters. Could this vignette have anything to do with this curious fact?

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Dawn's picture
Submitted by Dawn on

I love that particular dodge. Soon all controversial policies will be announced on foreign soil. We'll need to create a Gitmo for the purpose.

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

So, Geithner is a tool, and in the original sense of the word, in fact. Whatever would he do without Summers?

Un-American?! Really, now, where have we heard that one, before...?