The Stash

How Geithner Restored Confidence...

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...in the Treasury Department. Mike Allen and Eamon Javers have some details in a Politico story today:

They [Geithner's advisers] decided to “let Tim be Tim” and accepted the fact that his strength wasn’t giving a speech in front of a bunch of flags. Rather, they let reporters see him in off-camera, pen-and-pad settings, where he fielded questions with the confidence that his staff saw behind the scenes. He aced an interview with PBS’s Charlie Rose, thriving in a relaxed setting where he could explain issues at length. Perhaps most important, the staff realized the importance of making sure other parts of the government knew all the nuances of what was being decided. Treasury officials now meet with White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel three or four times a week, so top officials can coordinate and trade notes about views on Capitol Hill. Although Obama never lost confidence in one of his earliest Cabinet picks, a turning point for Geithner came during a seven-hour marathon meeting at the White House on March 15. The president’s top aides could see that he had thought through all the options and had thoughtful, authoritative answers to all their questions.

Just to add to the point about off-camera conversations with reporters: As I understand it, this is a skill Geithner has had since his days as a Treasury attache in Japan in the late '80s and early '90s. Back then he got to know (and generally impressed) a group of reporters who are now fairly prominent--like the Times' David Sanger and Marcus Brauchli, then a Wall Street Journal correspondent, now executive editor of The Washington Post. It's only natural that Geithner would return to this strength as he tried to get his footing at Treasury.

--Noam Scheiber

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