Yellen is now looking good for Fed post

Al Kamen
Columnist September 18, 2013

After a week of whispers, it appears that Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Janet Yellen is indeed President Obama’s top pick to lead the Fed, a White House official tells our colleague Zachary Goldfarb.

Barring any unexpected development, that means Yellen will get the nomination, perhaps as soon as next week.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

With her main competition — former White House economic adviser Larry Summers — suddenly taking himself out of the running, she’s been widely considered the heir apparent. (The president was said to be considering other candidates, too.)

Summers, who many believed would be the president’s choice, dropped out after facing sharp resistance on Capitol Hill.

As current vice chairman and a longtime Fed official, Yellen is deeply familiar with the inner workings of the powerful central bank, so there’s little need for lengthy on-the-job training.

The best and the wurst

And now, a preliminary In the Loop review of the best and worst video “introductions” the State Department has produced as U.S. ambassadors head overseas.

The slick videos are TV-broadcast quality — though they’re likely to be seen more on YouTube or on embassies’ Web sites. There’s a lot of “so honored and excited” chatter mixed with generally brief, sometimes painful efforts to speak the local language; photos of the nominee with President Obama and/or Bill Clinton; and talk about increasing trade, historical ties, friendship and so on.

The videos (each about 11 / 2 to two minutes long) follow a general format, but “these are unique to the ambassador and what he or she wants to say,” a State official told us. Most all have an emphasis on hobbies and interests, along with family members and photos “to add a personal touch.”

What the ambassadors include is generally up to them. “It’s a consultative process,” we were told, and officials at each embassy “sign off” to ensure it’s going to resonate locally. Production, begun in 2011, is being ramped up, with 20 video in the works. They’ve apparently been well received in the host countries.

We sampled a few of those done by mega-bundlers and other political appointees. Ambassador to Sweden Mark Brzezinski (brother of Mika , son of Zbig ), who worked on the Clinton White House national security staff, turned in a solid performance.

And ambassador to Austria, philanthropist and bundler Alexa Wesner easily matched that, especially on the version she did in German, which impressed our colleagues.

Ambassador to Denmark Rufus Gifford , despite spending a bit too much time kayaking on the Potomac in his video, did well.

And Ambassador to Belgium Denise Bauer — though she seemed a bit tentative — also performed well.

Our colleagues judged one video, Ambassador to Germany John Emerson’s, as over-exuberant, starting with the “Heeere’s Johnny” moment in which he loudly proclaims, “Hah-lowwwww Deutschland!”

The former Clinton White House official and major bundler’s praise of the wonders of California and his home town of Los Angeles has a campaign-commercial feel — almost as if he were planning a run — as does the lengthy focus on his family and talk about loving film, tennis, golf and skiing. (We’re not going to get into the odd underwater photo in scuba gear.)

A German reporter panned that video, noting that Germans are quite formal in general and most serious about foreign policy and government.

“It’s silly and feeds into the stereotype that Germans think Americans are spacey, trying to be too happy,” the German reporter said. “It’s not offensive, just American.”

“Hey! We like hot dogs,” the State Department official noted. The job of ambassadors “is to be Americans.”

Well, there’s that. (View some of the videos at washingtonpost.
com/blogs/in-the-loop
.)

Egg on our face

Pardon us while we eat a BLC sandwich. That’s bacon, lettuce and crow. On toast, please.

Despite the Loop’s skepticism that one C. Moore Bacon (whose political contribution the Federal Election Commission had flagged as suspect) was a real person and not a made-up name, it turns out he is quite real. Our apologies to Mr. Bacon.

The FEC had suggested that Romney Victory Inc., a joint fundraising organization led by 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, return a donation from Bacon. The commission suspected he might be a foreign national and therefore barred from contributing to a U.S. election, because he listed an English address and the British army as his employer.

But the Romney money folks — who didn’t immediately return our initial calls — now assure us that he is, in fact, both real and a U.S. citizen. The suspicious-sounding name — and the foreign address — had initially raised their eyebrows, too. But they were able to verify his information, and they plan to soon inform the FEC that all is well with accepting Bacon’s bacon.

So there’s no need for any beef.

With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/
intheloop
. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Politics