The White House is whining about heckling from Democrats over its Federal Reserve chairman pick. The Wall Street Journal reports: “Surprised and irritated to see Senate Democrats touting a preferred candidate for Federal Reserve chairman, White House officials have moved behind the scenes to quash the campaign and are insisting President Barack Obama not be pressured as he mulls whom to nominate,
people familiar with the effort say.” Democrats, except those who leaked this to the Journal, seem to be falling into line: “The White House appears to have gotten its message across, with many Senate Democrats no longer trying to publicly press Mr. Obama to nominate Fed Vice Chairwoman Janet Yellen to succeed Chairman Ben Bernanke.”

Larry Summers Larry Summers (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

This raises several points. First, notice how huffy the president gets when anyone dares to actually give “advice” and not merely “consent” to his picks. The president is so used to ignoring Congress he gets startled when lawmakers finally push back.

Second, this is largely a situation of his own making; he has let the process drag on far too long. Seriously, didn’t he have someone in mind and vetted when he decided not to stick with Ben Bernanke? (For those watching the competency meter at the White House this is another sign — following the sequester hype, losing gun law battle, scandal-mania and Obamacare rollout miscues — the current crew doesn’t have its act together.)

Third, this only goes to show how poorly the White House communicates even with its own party on Capitol Hill. Like the crossfire on the student loan bill, Democrats on the Hill appear to be the last people to find out what the White House is up to. In the first term such imperiousness wasn’t a problem; in the second term, it is proving to be an incessant problem.

The Fed chairmanship has grown from a nomination decision to face-off between the White House and the already irritated left-wing base, who would view Yellen as not only a gender barrier-breaker but a repudiation of all that Clinton-era moderation with which Summers is associated. The nomination now is a lose-lose for the president. If he picks someone other than Summers he will be accused of caving; if he picks Summers he’ll give Democrats one more reason to chafe at the White House in a second term that has gone steadily downhill since Inauguration Day.