Tim Geithner, Tell Us Why You're Rescuing the Very Private Interests that Led Us to Ruin
Continued from previous page
This is relevant now because Barack Obama has chosen to rely on Geithner and Summers for managing the economy and reforming it. If they are too narrow in perspective, too defensive in behalf of the failed status quo, the Obama presidency will be crippled by their lack of imagination. That leads to another question: why did Obama feel the need to select such a confining list of familiar technocrats -- competent and brainy like himself -- to run the government? The president is neither arrogant nor insecure -- he exudes the opposite -- yet he must feel more comfortable dealing with folks vetted by the same ladder of success. Perhaps he believes the "best and the brightest" will protect him from failure. Or maybe he thinks his presidency will have more power to change things if he sticks with people drawn from among the influential elites, safely aligned with the existing power structure.
The fact is, we do not yet know the answer. Events are rapidly revealing the nature of this new president, and we have a lot to learn. We know how smart he is, how easily he empathizes with people across the usual dividing lines. We do not yet know if he is wise enough -- tough enough -- to lead the country to new ground.
William Greider is the author of, most recently, "The Soul of Capitalism" (Simon & Schuster).