So Larry Summers has withdrawn his candidacy to be the next chair of the Federal Reserve, presumably paving the way for Janet Yellen to be nominated. We surveyed this controversy last month, noting how liberalism’s obsession with gender and identity politics, and not economic views, was driving the matter. Beyond this being a victory for the identity-politics mindset at the center of liberalism today (not-so-idle question: will a Democratic president ever appoint another white male to the Supreme Court?), it also represents another sign of President Obama’s vanishing clout (Obama really really wanted Summers, supposedly), as The Atlantic explains:
No one has ever said President Obama’s relationship with Congress was warm. But with cool fall temperatures creeping in, that bond may also have gotten a little bit chillier on Sunday, when Larry Summers called the president to withdraw his name from consideration for chairmanship of the Federal Reserve. . .
While opposition to Summers has been building for months, it’s a surprise — his confirmation still looked plausible, if not certain; Obama was reportedly determined to get his way on the pick; and Summers has been thought to covet the Fed job since, well, forever. The economist served as Treasury secretary under Bill Clinton and chair of Obama’s National Economic Council. Summers also had a turbulent tenure as president of Harvard University.
Here are three political takeaways from the demise of the Summers nomination. First, it suggests that the White House’s hands-off style towards legislators has backfired — or backfired yet again, depending on how you score it. . .
Second, Sunday’s events suggest the administration may have miscalculated its timing for the nomination to replace outgoing Fed Chair Ben Bernanke. Ever slow, methodical, and meticulous, Obama insisted he wouldn’t make any pick until well into the fall. But liberal activists and the press weren’t playing by his schedule. They had all summer to build up the case against Summers, get their message out, gather support, and make the argument for Yellen. Without even meaning to, Obama forfeited the game.
Third, what does this say about the state of discipline in the Democratic Party?
I think we know the answer to this last question clearly enough. The identity politics left has plenty of discipline.