In the turbulent drama of a Fed chair nomination, Larry Summers' withdrawal is no surprise, since populist Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee were swiftly turning their ploughshares into pitchforks. But this subplot, reported this morning by Bloomberg, staggers the already politically exhausted imagination:
Some Republicans were approached by the White House as late as last week as the administration tried to get a better sense of whether Summers could win the required support.... While the entreaties were not rejected, the potential price of the votes was considered too steep, as was the reliability of the Republican lawmakers.
As though some, any question of Republican reliability remains? I'd sooner trust Joachim von Ribbentrop, as would, I suspect, this former top Senate aide: "If they really thought they could pick up the Republican votes necessary to provide a comfortable margin they still can’t figure out what’s going on up on the Hill."
Since I'm tired of writing it I'm sure you're tired of reading it, but weariness notwithstanding--There is something wrong inside Obama's political operation. They don't know where to turn, so they turn to desperation--definition: asking Republicans for help--which in turn adds to the administration's mounting, second-term public failures. The NY Times:
The embarrassing [Summers] setback reveals an administration increasingly hamstrung by occasional opposition of liberal Democrats, not just its familiar Republican opponents. It adds to the rocky nature of Mr. Obama’s fifth year, following the failure of a gun-rights bill, the stalling of an immigration overhaul and the lack of progress on a budget deal, on top of the back-and-forth over whether to conduct airstrikes in Syria.
The gun-bill fight was unavoidable; no presidential adviser with so much as a dash of human decency would have counseled politics over principle at such a monstrously grim time. But investing hope, personnel and political capital in an immigration bill and a budget "deal" and a spectacularly doomed force-resolution were politically indictable acts of aggravated folly.
Now the Summers "setback," which, again, according to reports, had for the last several days been an embarrassment in the Democratically advertised making. Yet the WH persevered. I don't know what they were thinking, although it seems the answer is: They weren't.