The New, Amended Case Against Tim “Magical Thinking” Geithner | Talking Points Memo

On the face of it, the lengthy Tim Geithner profile in today’s New York Times is not quite as unflattering as last Friday’s cover story in Portfolio — but it’s pretty close. Both perpetuate a slightly altered narrative about the Treasury Secretary: where earlier hit jobs depicted Geithner as a limp-wristed bureaucrat who took marching orders from the plutocrats who appointed him to head the New York Fed, the latest stories further the notion of Geithner as precocious, fundamentally unprepared child — a sort of Sarah Palin of Clinton-anointed technocrats. A structured finance expert accuses him of “magical thinking” in the Times; Portfolio quotes Mike Barnicle’s “eyes of a shoplifter” observation. “Think Bambi looking into the headlights on an 18-wheeler,” says one economist of Geithner’s fumbling through a question-and-answer session in 2006. “People thought, ‘Whoa, that’s kind of out there,'” says comptroller of the currency John C. Dugan of a short-lived proposal Geithner advanced last June to guarantee all bank debt. Management expert Peter Cohan suggests Geithner is flailing because he isn’t very “good at math.”

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