Summers is said by those who know him to be in no way campaigning for the job, despite a recent flurry of stories about his potential nomination. His office said he was golfing with no access to a cellphone when POLITICO tried to reach him on Tuesday. People close to Summers say he has settled into his current teaching role at Harvard and is not especially eager to move back to Washington full time. …
"Settled into his teaching job" except, of course, for the time he spends giving speeches and advice to everyone from hedge funds to the Minerva Project. The New York Times reported that he had made more than $5 million in a single year from D.E. Shaw: "A Rich Education for Summers (after Harvard)". Could he be lured away, if the president begged? Informed but anonymous sources say yes:
But others say that if Obama asks, Summers would certainly agree to serve…We have seen Summers' skillful manipulation of journalists before. On March 4, 2006, New York Times columnist John Tierney published a column entitled "The Faculty Club" about the Summers presidential debacle. He quoted a "contrarian academic" as making an interesting observation about the effect of tenure on faculty appointments. I had never heard this particular point made -- except once, a few days before, when I heard Summers himself make it in his remarks to Harvard parents. It certainly looked like Summers had gotten Tierney to carry his water for him by quoting Summers himself anonymously. I wrote to the Public Editor:
I write in regard to John Tierney's column of last Saturday …. I was at the event last Friday at which President Summers gave the interesting answer to a question about tenure,
that without it we professors wouldn't hire people better than we are. I had not heard that argument before, at least not put that way. I was stunned to read almost exactly the same language the next morning out of the mouth an anonymous academic quoted in Tierney's column, immediately preceding a paragraph on the woes of President Summers.
… I wonder about the journalistic ethics of quoting, as an anonymous source, the individual who is in fact the subject of the opinion piece. It seems to me that in this situation the reader has a right to know the conflict of interest in the opinion being quoted.The editor responded that he did not get into the journalistic practices of opinion writers.
So it seems Summers still has his media connections working for him. If I had to guess, I would say he is not only campaigning for the Fed job, but doing so 24x7.
There is one related point about the Politico reporting with which I would find fault, though it is a common failing among journalists.
You know the classical use of epithets such as "wily Odysseus" and "pious Aeneas," where a figure is repeatedly characterized by the same memorable trait? Well, with Summers it is that he was brought down from the Harvard presidency because of his women-in-science remarks at NBER. Here is Politico's nod to that Achilles heel:
Summers, who drew criticism in 2005 for remarks as Harvard president on women’s aptitude for science, would certainly face contentious confirmation hearings.
Summers has been so successful in getting the press to do his bidding, that I suspect the women-in-science trope is one of his own promotion.
After Summers stepped down from the Harvard presidency, quite a few people thought that he might wind up in Washington some day, but probably not in a role that would require Congressional confirmation, because that McClintick article would get dredged up again. But perhaps bygones will prove to be bygones, and almost everyone will have forgotten. After all, Shleifer's wife Nancy Zimmerman, a hedge fund manager also involved in the Russian affair, was reported by the New York Times to have been part of Obama's inner circle of economic advisors.
Suddenly, Republican obstructionism doesn't sound like such a terrible thing to me.