Roll Call speculates that Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) may not be retiring after all -- he may trade his office in the Senate's Russell Building for one in the Treasury. Could he replace Tim Geithner as Treasury Secretary? It's not beyond the realm of possibility, but I doubt it.
Roll Call says:
For instance, several Democratic Senate aides noted that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is an extremely unpopular figure in the Senate. Geithner has also taken the brunt of the criticism for the administration's handling of the economy and, these sources speculated, if the country's financial picture does not brighten before Election Day, he could be the first secretary to leave the administration.
Although Dodd would appear to be well-situated to take control of Treasury if the position were to open, it may not be smooth sailing for his nomination.
I have a few thoughts about this. The
conspiracy theorist pragmatist in me wonders if the Obama administration promised Dodd a prominent position -- even if it isn't Treasury Secretary -- in order to secure his promise not to seek re-election. Dodd's prospects of winning in November were relatively dim, and the Obama administration knows that it can't lose any Senate seats if it wants to push through its ambitious agenda in the second half of its term. Powerful Senators tend not to be meek or humble, so I find it surprising that Dodd wouldn't want to go down without a fight, unless he had some other incentive to throw in the towel early.
Yet, Roll Call makes an important point about potential trouble with the nomination process. There's a reason why Dodd may have lost re-election: he's become a very controversial figure, having been accused of being in bed with the banking and finance industry prior to the crisis. As Faiz Shakir at Think Progress notes:
Dodd's cozy relations with Countrywide and A.I.G. could subject his nomination to a messy confirmation battle.
Obviously, Republicans won't make the process easy, but given these allegations, I wonder if even Democrats worry that Dodd is too poisonous, particularly for very prominent administration post like Treasury Secretary. I also think the Obama administration might look like it has egg on its face if it dumps Geithner. Republicans would surely use that as an opportunity to claim that the President is admitting his economic policies administered through Geithner didn't work. Politically, even if things are still bad in the latter part of this year, the Obama administration might be smarter to just use the "it takes time to clean up a mess this big, so we should stay the course" talking point instead of scapegoating Geithner.
So while I think it's possible that Dodd could very well end up in the Obama Treasury in some capacity, I'd be pretty surprised if he got the top post. Maybe he could run the one of the new agencies that financial regulation seeks to create -- like the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Something like that seems a lot more likely to me than Dodd replacing Geithner.