It was Romer’s first meeting with the President-elect in November 2008. According to Ron Suskind’s book “Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President,”Obama had “a woman problem: too few of them in key jobs” and he was trying to bring in Christina Romer. And “It’s clear monetary policy has shot its wad” is what Obama said to her before even “hello.” Is that how you talk to a woman?
She then quotes the following passage from Suskind:
It was a strange break from decorum for a man who had done so outstandingly well with women voters. The two had never met before, and this made the salty, sexual language hard to read. Later it would seem a foreshadowing of something that came to irk many of the West Wing’s women: the president didn’t have particularly strong “women skills.” The guy’s-guy persona, which the message team would use to show Obama’s down-to-earth side, failed to account for at least one thing: What if you didn’t play basketball or golf? Still, for the moment, the comment didn’t faze Romer. She was curious to hear what he thought.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
Obama extended his hand, now ready to greet her. “I guess we need to focus on fiscal policy,” he said.
“No, you’re wrong,” Romer corrected him. “There’s quite a bit we can still do monetarily, even with the historically low interest rates.”
I have to say, in the past 24 hours my opinion of the President has been completely transformed. I may even owe Larry Summers an apology. And here’s what’s most amazing of all. Even Ben Bernanke keeps insisting the Fed can do much more on the AD front. Just try to imagine those meetings between Obama and Bernanke. We were all envisioning Obama pressing Bernanke to do more. Now it looks like Bernanke was telling Obama that the Fed could provide much more monetary stimulus if it wanted to, Obama was insisting it couldn’t, and that in any case the real problem with the economy was rapid productivity growth. I’m speechless.
PS. My first link to Ann Althouse, a blogger from my hometown. She handles the sexual innuendo angle far better than I can—so please take a look at her amusing post.