I read this WaPo article, following a link from Atrios. It’s about when Tim Geithner considered leaving and he recommended Hillary take his place as Secretary of the Treasury. So, the summary goes like this: Geithner was ready to leave a couple of years ago and when they asked him who would be a good replacement, he suggested Hillary. Here’s the run down of how that played out including the part that Atrios finds weird in bold:
Geithner had submitted a list of names to the White House. Chief of Staff William Daley appeared to “slow-walk” and rob the Clinton suggestion of any momentum, according to one of the administration officials. But actually, Daley was conducting his own vetting process, another official said.
He broached the idea with Clinton. An administration official familiar with the exchanges characterized her response as “cautious interest.” A person close to Clinton had a different take: “She listened respectfully and politely.”
Daley called a few trusted eminences on Wall Street, sounding them out on the personnel switch. Their response was resoundingly positive, both officials said. She had never been a banker, but as a senator from New York, Clinton had cultivated many relationships within the financial sector. Some of them had been longing for the kind of attention they had received from her and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, but rarely got from Obama.
And unlike Geithner, who disdained high jinks on Capitol Hill, Clinton had an intuition for political risk. She knew committee chairs. As the debt crisis worsened in the United States and Europe, Clinton’s popularity abroad would have also allowed her to talk sense to other leaders.
Weird indeed, considering that these were the very same bankers who rejected Clinton for Obama in 2008. Back then, I suspect that Hillary looked a little too much like rehab so they threw their weight behind the guy who might like to party with them later. That didn’t work out so well for any of them, or us, for that matter.
It doesn’t surprise me that the Clintons cultivated the bankers. They’re politicians. It’s what they do. Of course, there’s a difference between cultivating and prostitution. But as Karen Ho’s book, Liquidated, explained, bankers distrust Yale graduates as being too liberal. I know that sounds facile on the surface but conditioning and tribalism are not easy things to overcome, even for the banker crowd.
In any case, by the time Geithner was ready to retire from Treasury, the damage was already done. The article reports that sources close to Clinton says she listened “politely and respectfully” to the suggestion but it doesn’t sound like she was interested. She’s not stupid, which is probably why only a national emergency will ever persuade her to take the VP position and maybe not even then. Why the f^&* would she want to do clean up after Geithner? They didn’t get along almost from the beginning when he wanted to move into her territory at State. At State, she’s not sullied by all of the domestic crap. If Obama and Geithner made a royal mess of things and didn’t support the homeowners drowning in their mortgages, they couldn’t pin it on Hillary. Her political reputation doesn’t take any hits. Dragging her into Treasury would definitely do her in.
I think it says a lot about Clinton’s professionalism and capabilities that Geithner even suggested such a thing. It’s like saying she’s the best that Obama has in his cabinet. She can do practically anything.
But note who “slow walked” it around the White House. It was Chief of Staff William Daley. There is a political component of this that the Chicago boys don’t like. Were they afraid she’d get more face time? Get in to the office and find that there were things she actually could do after all? Make Obama look even worse than he already does?
I don’t know. There’s not enough information for me to go on, although I’m sure it is more meaningful to the people in the immediate vicinity of Washington.
What this article *does* do is associate Clinton’s name with Wall Street’s in a potentially negative way, implying that she would be friendlier to them than Obama has been (hard to imagine that, to be honest). We’ve seen this kind of thing before whenever the voting public starts getting wistful about Hillary. Suddenly, there are articles about “Hillaryland!” at State and how she doesn’t run State like a man would, like that’s a bad thing. But it’s all rumors and innuendos, intended to put you off your kibble if you’re a Democrat constructing all of the possible 2012 election scenarios.
Nevertheless, we can’t deny that the bankers took a good look at both candidates in 2008 and decided to pass on Hillary, despite the “attention” she gave them as their senator from New York. They threw all of their weight behind Obama in a major way. Let’s not pretend that the bankers had nothing to do with Obama getting the nomination. It has always been my suspicion that the Clintons weren’t overwhelmed by the “complexity” of the financial industry, after their experience and time to reflect where things went wrong. The fact that the bankers seemed receptive to the idea of Hillary going to Treasury indicates that they thought they didn’t have much to fear from her after they’d already rewritten the rules in their favor and endorsed the blank checks in 2008-2009.
It was the White House that blinked.
Also, Atrios has an Asshole Test about children of illegal immigrants. Cut out and carry with you. This is useful.
More of this please. It could be a series.
BTW, this is what Hillary said in September 2008 and gives a pretty good indication why she didn’t get the nomination. She put too damn much emphasis on bailing out people with bad mortgages. Her priorities were all wrong even it turns out she was prematurely right. Hmmm, if we’d elected her, we might actually be on our way to recovery right now and looking forward to a second Clinton term instead of dreading the future: