Tim Geithner's Changing Fortunes

By Joshua Green

When I was working on this profile of Tim Geithner for the magazine last year, one of the great and constant stresses in my life was the rumor that flared up every couple of weeks that Geithner was going to be forced to resign. The worst thing that can happen when you've sunk a couple months into a profile if for that person to resign before you can publish. The other great stress was my thesis: I argued that, far from being in danger of losing his job, Geithner had actually emerged as the president's key economic adviser.

Things turned out okay, for me and for Geithner. But it's been pretty remarkable to see how dramatically Geithner's public fortunes have swung since that article (I claim no credit--just denoting the change). A couple of weeks ago, Geithner quietly made it known that he'd like to leave the administration after the debt-ceiling impasse was resolved. Well, now it's resolved. But Jackie Calmes has a piece in today's New York Times about how Geithner "is expected to stay through the president's term after intense White House pressure." That's not by choice. It's about as clear a public signal as the administration can send to Tim Geithner: "Buddy, you're not going anywhere."

So we've come full circle. Geithner used to be regarded as the likeliest guy to get tossed out the door. (Although he really wasn't.) Now, he's dying to leave--and they won't let him! Especially after today's market crash. I'll bet Geithner doesn't cherish the irony.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/08/tim-geithners-changing-fortunes/243134/