The Obama administration’s penchant for hypocrisy was on full display yesterday at the Senate Finance Committee hearing to confirm Jack Lew as Treasury secretary. I tuned in for parts of the hearing. Turns out his investments using an offshore vehicle in the Cayman Islands were okay. His million-dollar Wall Street bonus, for something or other that Lew couldn’t explain, was just fine with the president. And there was nothing wrong with the exotic financial products that were being dumped on innocent American savers and investors. After the vicious attacks on Mitt Romney in the 2012 campaign on matters similar to all of the above, one could have thought the president would have gracefully appointed a Treasury secretary who wasn’t stained in this way and who had a personal investment and income history that wasn’t just Romney-lite.
No chance. This is power politics. Lew wanted the job; President Obama doesn’t want anyone who will challenge his biases. Done. Obama’s most able clerk will now be the face of the American economy.
Jack Lew is a first-rate, savvy staff guy. Nothing wrong with that. But America needs to lead the world in an economic recovery during a very fragile time. The rest of the world needs to know that America has a plan, is serious about its leadership role in the world and expects other nations to follow our lead. Lew doesn’t do much to get us there. Other leaders around the world will appreciate that he is Obama’s man and that he is well-regarded in clubby American politics, but no one is going to think of him as the person to defer to on anything major or certainly in times of crisis. Let’s all hope for the best.
Lew is smart enough to know that yesterday’s hearing was all bark and no bite. In what is now an Obama-esque trademark, Lew was able to deny the obvious and keep a straight face while Sen. Jeff Sessions (my senator from Alabama) tried to hold him to account for previous colossally misleading testimony about Obama’s policies not adding to the national debt. The cynic in me applauds his ability to stick to his story regardless of the facts.
Anyway, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is what we will end up having for the next four years. I’m afraid this isn’t a case of no harm done. I wish. Not having a Treasury secretary who can reinforce America’s private-sector strength, coach the president to be more disciplined than he wants to be on taxing and spending, and command respect around the world is harmful for America and for free enterprise.