Friday, November 21, 2008

Obama picks NY Fed Chief Tim Geithner as Treasury Secretary

Don't ask me if he's a good pick.

The only thing clear to me are the key questions. For we have a better idea, due to the struggles that current Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has gone through, about what will determine whether Mr. Geithner is successful and ultimately seen as a good pick.

The questions revolve around public relations. Nobody doubts Mr. Geithner has expert knowledge. Or whether President Obama's economic team will be the best economists around. They certainly will be, which is a major difference between President Obama and his predecessor, whose calculations were always done with political rather than knowledge concerns at heart.

The key questions are, will Mr. Geithner prove to inspire confidence? Will he be an effective communicator? Will he give off the feeling he is confident and adapting to new conditions in a rational, data-driven, expert fashion? Will he relate well to people who aren't themselves experts? In short, it comes down to legitimacy. Will he prove worthy of being granted legitimacy by the American public?

It is on these questions that Sec. Paulson has failed miserably.

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