ProPublica‘s Jesse Eisenger was harsh in his review of Timothy Geithner’s book about his role in the financial crisis. But he also lays the blame on president Obama because after all he was the one calling the shots and hiring the key people.
These were Mr. Geithner’s failures, but they were more deeply Mr. Obama’s. The flaws we thought we were seeing during Mr. Geithner’s tenure turn out to have replicated themselves in other Obama departments. And they have persisted after Mr. Geithner left. Why, it’s almost as if the Treasury secretary wasn’t the one making decisions and setting the tone after all.
President Obama’s appointees, Eric H. Holder Jr. at the Department of Justice and Mary L. Schapiro at the Securities and Exchange Commission, oversaw the inadequate enforcement response to the crisis. Mr. Obama reappointed Ben S. Bernanke, who focused on monetary policy and didn’t push for more aggressive regulatory and financial reform. Mr. Geithner didn’t run those shops.
But then he later says that he thinks that appointing Timothy Geithner to be the Treasury Secretary was one of the worst mistakes that president Obama made.
“I consider the Obama appointment of Geithner to be the single worst political mistake Obama made, simply for that reason,” Eisinger says. “They could’ve done everything that they wanted to do with the bailout but not tied themselves politically to it if they had simply had different personnel.”
But was it a ‘mistake’? I don’t think so. Right from the beginning, even before he took office, Obama was signaling that he was a friend of the financial sector. So why assume that he wanted to crack down on them and somehow blew it by mistakenly choosing the wrong people to carry out his policies? It is far more likely that he put these people into these positions because then he would get the result he wanted. After all, he has never expressed any regret about the outcome.
In fact, Eisenger’s review is full of evidence of how when confronted with choices about what to do, he almost invariably chose to do that which favored the banks. It is mystifying to me why Eisenger sees these as ‘mistakes’ on Obama’s part instead of policy.