I agree with this:

Obviously I can see why people feel that allegations of misogyny carry more weight with the public than talk about monetary policy, but I think this is a mistaken approach. If Summers wants to get the job, either he or his supporters need to communicate something about his vision for the Federal Reserve’s substantive role. It’s true that sexism is more of a hot-button issue, but it seems to me that silence from both Summers and Obama about monetary issues is what drives the perception that the pro-Summers movement is about gender. After all, Janet Yellen is already sitting there as vice chair of the Federal Reserve, she has oodles of experience in central banking, she’s been the Federal Open Market Committee’s best forecaster, and she’s the candidate Wall Street both expects and wants. So why not pick her?

What’s interesting is that Summers’s behavior here merely gives additional proof that he should not be running any institution of note in the United States of America, displaying little political tact. He was a true bull in a china shop in government, if you’ll pardon the cliche, trying to run over everyone else even though he was in a position that was merely advisory. He acted like he owned the place, and ultimately got frozen out.

Summers now wants to be Fed Chairman, but he hasn’t really learned much more about politics. While finding women to testify that Summers is the kindest, warmest, most wonderful person they’ve ever met and absolutely isn’t a sexist, macho asshole might seem like a politician-y damage control type of thing to do, all he is doing is intensifying the debate over whether or not he’s a sexist jerk, making it even more the focal point of his nomination and the only real data we have in terms of assessing his potential nomination. Yglesias is absolutely right, the best thing Summers could do right now is to talk about monetary policy, intelligently and forcefully, and to dispense with his baggage as quickly as possible while turning the nomination into a boring fight over reserve rates and so on. Between sexism and convincing command of monetary policy, only one is a typical criterion for running the Fed, and if the other is in there too it’s only going to hurt. Summers has utterly failed at this, in a typically Summersian way. By rushing straight at the biggest problem in his aggressive, dare I say bullish way, Summers has seen it metamorphose into an even bigger problem that has probably reached critical mass in preventing the nomination altogether. Poetic justice, you might say.

The only remaining question is, why is Obama fallen under Summers’s spell again? It makes so little sense that it makes perfect sense, orthogonally. As in, I do sort of wonder if this is all a way of getting the better candidate in without much of a hassle, let Larry fall to the wolves so that Janet can slow-walk to her new post. It wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened. Just ask Susan Rice.

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  1. Matmos says:

    From Fear of a Female Fed Chief by Jonathan Chait:

    As it happens, the Journal’s news writers, who frequently infuriate and embarrass their editorial-page colleagues by reporting facts, published a report today measuring which members of the Federal Reserve board have made the most accurate predictions since the crisis. The Journal-style inflation hawks who have predicted rising prices around every corner have scored terribly. The highest scoring member — that is, the one whose predictions were most frequently borne out correctly by events — is none other than Janet Yellen.

    Given this record, “the female dollar” looks awfully appealing. But it puts a fine point on the gender panic that is now infusing the hard-money cranks. They have constructed a fantasy world in which they sit in their plush leather chairs, calmly defending the rigors of tough-minded empiricism while feminists bellow from the street below. Yellen keeps analyzing the world in a sound and clear-minded way while they bay at the moon.

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