There is a new book out about the Obama presidency—Confidence Men, by Pulitzer-winning former Wall Street Journal writer Ron Suskind—and you know what that means! Hot gossip. Hot political gossip.
Items from the book, which comes out Tuesday, have been leaking out here and there through the usual mouthpieces—Politico's Mike Allen was running items in his "Daily Deals" email or whatever it is—but we're partial to the bloggy lil' Frank Rich—Adam Moss conversation on New York's website, in which Moss describes Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Director of the National Economic Council Larry Summers as the book's "villains."
Those three, Moss writes, "hijacked" the presidency in order to pursue their own agendae; Geithner, for example, "was insubordinate," ignoring Obama's directive that the Treasury consider the dissolution of Citigroup back in 2009. (Geithner also stifled Elizabeth Warren's attempts at reform at every turn, like some horribly evil, pro-banker Bugs Bunny.) But Moss says that Summers might have been worse:
Peter Orszag relays this eviscerating quote that Summers said to him about Obama during the worst of the economic distress. According to Orszag, Summers says, "You know, Peter we're really home alone. There's no adult in charge. Clinton would never have made these mistakes." Later, Orszag says to Suskind, "Larry just didn't think the president knew what he was deciding. Was this [obstruction of the president's wishes] outright and willful?" In other words, asks Orszag, was Summers saying, "I know more than the president flat-out? That strikes me as ... likely." In an amazing memo, Pete Rouse, who would replace Emanuel temporarily as chief of staff, recommends firing Summers for "Larry's imperious and heavy-handed direction of the economic policy process." [Former Chairperson of the Council of Economic Advisers Christina] Romer says Summers made her feel "like a piece of meat."
Well, of course Larry Summers is a condescending, misogynist ass. But apparently he wasn't the only one in the administration—and Suskind got former Communications Director Anita Dunn to say so on the record:
"'The president has a real woman problem' was the assessment of another high-ranking female official. 'The idea of the boys' club being just Larry and Rahm isn't fair. [Obama] was just as responsible himself.' ... '[L]ooking back,' recalled Anita Dunn, when asked about it nearly two years later, 'this place would be in court for a hostile workplace ... Because it actually fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women.'"
We are deeply excited to read this book—as you know, there's nothing better than political gossip, except for every other kind of gossip, and most other things—both because it sounds extremely depressing and horrible, and because it's going to kick off an extremely entertaining series of public denials, recriminations, and fun little stories. And, also, we will be able to use it for fuel when we can't pay our heating bill.