How Obama Can Reboot Geithner

Treasury sec needs a freer hand and more staff to survive
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2009 7:55 AM CDT
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner looks on as President Barack Obama makes remarks on AIG, Wednesday, March 18, 2009, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington.   (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
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(Newser) – Three times in 3 days the president has had to offer a defense of Tim Geithner, who will almost certainly remain Treasury secretary despite calls to resign. As Eamonn Javers reports in Politico, the White House now has to perform some crisis management: Keep Geithner out of the spotlight, allow him to take tougher policy stances, and, at last, fill the vacant positions at the department. "They need to fortify him every way they can," said one presidential adviser.

Geithner, writes Javers, has the Dan Quayle problem: "Once the former vice president had been branded in the public mind as a lightweight, there was almost nothing to do to change that. For Geithner, time is of the essence." And if opinion hardens, the damage could extend beyond the Treasury and taint Obama, whose popularity remains high. As one veteran Democratic consultant said about AIG anger: "There is only one other place for it to go, and that's the White House."