Two Views on Larry Summers

The relentless speculation over who should be in Obama’s cabinet continued in the Los Angeles Times, where readers were clued in to the debate over naming Larry Summers Treasury Secretary:

Obama faces conflicting advice from his close advisers, from Capitol Hill and from important Democratic constituencies.

Some argue that, with the economy gripped by a deepening crisis, he needs the country’s best and brightest to help him deal with it, chief among them Summers.

Others warn that Summers’ sharp elbows and his penchant for controversy could make him a damaging distraction at a time when the nation and the new president can least afford it.

While it’s true that Summers indeed has a “penchant for controversy,” one might want to consider another, more practical problem. The L.A. Times asserts that Obama advisers are looking at Summers because they are “increasingly interested in finding a candidate for Treasury secretary who was steeped in the markets, experienced in crisis management and not implicated in the problem.” But that would exclude Summers for the job, wouldn’t it?

The New York Times had a long October 9 report on the Greenspan legacy, noting in particular Summers’ role (as deputy to Robert Rubin) in helping to stymie efforts by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to regulate the derivatives market. The debate over Larry Summers should be more than a battle over whether his “penchant for controversy” overshadows his brilliance.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.