NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Larry Summers has withdrawn his name as a potential candidate for Chairman of the Federal Reserve, even though he looked to be President Obama's man. Obama, despite all the negative baggage associated with this potential nominee, was likely to name him as the successor to Ben Bernanke.
This baggage included cozy Wall Street relationships, involvement with deregulation that led to much of the financial crisis and then his stepping down at Harvard due to his sexist remarks about women. Obama has already faced criticism from the female vote for his lack of appointments, especially painful since his 2012 Republican opponent Mitt Romney was seen as an enemy to female appointees.
While someone shouldn't be appointed to a high level position just because she's a women, there are certainly qualified candidates. The president must have lost his binder full of women.
"I was one of 100 leaders that sent a letter demanding Obama not appoint Summers," said Amy Siskind, president and co-founder of
the New Agenda
. She points out there was pressure from many sides not to go with Summers. Even former Obama adviser Christine Romer publicly sided against Summers.
Yet, Obama stubbornly stuck with him. Now that Yellen is looking like the odds on favorite, she is coming under attack.
There is no doubt she is qualified. Yellen is Vice Chairwoman of the Board of Govenors of the Federal Reserve. She's been the President and CEO of the San Francisco Federal Reserve, Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisors under President Clinton, and on and on. But some are now saying she doesn't have the gravitas for the job. Seriously? With that resume?
"Lacks gravitas is code for a woman," says Siskind. "It is factually incorrect that Yellen lacks gravitas." Another criticism lobbed at Yellen is that she'll just continue Bernanke's efforts and not attempt to back out of quantitative easing. However, these programs will have to be eased out of slowly by whoever takes over for Bernanke. No one can come in with a knife and immediately slice off the easy money.
There is also the belief that Obama will look weak if he picks Yellen. "If he doesn't appoint her, it will be irrational," says Siskind. There aren't any other contenders. Tim Geithner said he didn't want the job. None of the other names floated around seemed to be taken seriously by the White House. So, it looks like it will be Yellen, but the female voters that helped put Obama in the office will not forget this slight. They had to fight against a man with a history of sexist comments versus a woman who was vastly more qualified.
"If her name had been Jack Yellen, she would have been appointed last month," said Siskind.
Sadly Amy, that is probably true.
--Written by Debra Borchardt in New York.
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