My best take after two months:
Geithner is a dreadful front man. He is still apparently too jejune to face the Sunday talk-show circuit. As a former president of the Federal Reserve Bank, he may well have been too cosy with the Wall Street bankers who led us off the cliff, and his inability to convey what on earth he is doing in any reassuring way is a drag. That doesn’t mean he lacks a technical grip on what’s going on, and it’s in the nature of his strategy that the results will not be instant. It is easy to pile on until one recalls what most people felt about his predecessor, Hank Paulson. Being the US Treasury secretary is not an easy job right now.
Was the stimulus package too big? Or too small?
Nobody knows. Was it too larded with items not geared towards prodding instant spending? Perhaps. When you listen to the Obamaites explain their thinking, they come off as perfectly reasonable. The complex, service-based US economy is not as easy to goose with public works as it was in the 1930s. Some of the alleged excess was put in for fear that $800 billion (£555 billion) would not be enough. Some waste is inevitable when you’re rushing.
On Iraq, Obama has essentially given the neocons everything they want except an eternal occupation.
(Photo: US President Barack Obama walks down the West Wing Colonnade prior to departure on Marine One from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, March 21, 2009. Obama is spending the weekend at Camp David, the presidential retreat in nearby Maryland. By Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty.)