March 5, 2009
At the NY Fed, the supposed watchdog had an all too cozy relationship with Wall Street and Citi Group. Once nominated for Treasury Secretary, he stumbled out of the gate as a result of several years shorting his taxes. He stumbled again with the “O” banking plan. He owes Summers like Cheney owed Rummy. Above all — and this is not just superficial, given his role as the combined Mr. Fixit and U.S. Communicator-in-Chief of the financial meltdown — Tim Geither doesn’t come off assertive, personable or even that relatable.
This photo by Ben Lowy, taken as the Administration was settling in, leads off a slide show at Fortune titled “Inside Obama’s economic war room.”
If you pay any attention at all to news photos of NYSE traders, you’ll recognize this pose. Gripping the head has become the slightly more contained equivalent of throwing up one’s hands — a sort of sign language for “OMG, we’re going to hell.” Funny thing is, as both a key public figure as well as an avid picture taker, you would think Geithner would understand the importance of making eye contact with (a currently freaked-out) America.
Observing Geithner these past few weeks, some people smell nerves, fear or intimidation. I’m not sure at this point whether it couldn’t just be inhibition or shyness. Whatever it is, however, I don’t have to add that this image, far from unique, is more indicative. I think the photo was shot in TG’s White House office.
I welcome your take on the Secretary here as well as his environs. And, just for good measure, here’s the very next photo of Geithner — which is equally if not more awkward, I’m afraid.
Okay, I was clearly a little hard on TG above. As reader tearusapartt suggests, how he comes off in public shouldn’t matter nearly as much as if he can rescue the banking system. Here he is yesterday at Obama’s Health Care Forum cracking up with Senator Grassley. (click for full size.)