Impact and Accountability (Updated)

I may have mentioned it before but many, many years ago I had a boss who measured any given job according to two axes: impact and accountability. From his viewpoint the perfect job was one that had maximum impact (you had a lot of influence, a lot of power) and minimum accountability (you couldn’t get blamed if something went wrong).

By that standard the job of U. S. senator, for example, and particularly a U. S. senator from the state of Illinois is practically the perfect job. You have, if you care to wield it, substantial influence but practically no accountability. Certainly the voters won’t hold you accountable for anything.

And according to that standard being Secretary of the Treasury has got to be one of the very worst jobs in government. Your actual influence is nothing like as much as the title might suggest and you’ll be blamed for practically everything that might go wrong with the economy.

This morning James Joyner’s in a verdict on Tim Geithner’s tenure as Secretary of the Treasury is terse:

If Geithner continues to be an obstacle to Obama’s agenda, he’ll soon be — gone.

I’ve already got my nominee for the job ready: Rahm Emanuel. His time at Wasserstein Perella and his stint on the board of Freddie Mac certainly qualify him for the job. He’s knows the players and the lingo and I think he’s got the toughness of mind that is likely to be needed in the current climate.

Of course, most of the jobs public and private that Mr. Emanuel has held have been optimal ones by my old boss’s reckoning, maximum impact, minimal accountability, and that’s certainly true of his current job as President Obama’s Chief of Staff.

I doubt he’d want what’s likely to be the hot seat of this administration.


I see that Gail Collins over at the New York Times is supporting my case for Rahm Emanuel for Treasury Secretary:

We need a Treasury secretary so terrifying that if you were stuck in an elevator alone with him, you would just automatically hand over your wallet and credit cards.

We have a winner!

3 comments… add one
  • If I was stuck in an elevator with Rahm Emanuel I don’t think he could say or do anything to induce me to give him my wallet. He’s short and he’s a politician. The latter makes him a coward in my book, and the former means he is about as intimidating as the Mayor of the Munchkin Village.

    Now the guy in the picture over at OTB that links here…now he’s one bada$$ motherf*cker. I’d give him my wallet even if the elevator weren’t stuck.

    On a more serious note, I don’t think his being on the board of Freddie Mac is a plus. Might as well nominate Edward Liddy.

  • Larry Link

    I watched a hearing on CSPAN a few nights back, I was impressed with what I saw, Geithner was trying to explain that we are in one hell of a mess…his responses got my attention…we are in one hell of a mess, I had no problems gettting that message…the scariest part of this hearing were the dumb questions and responses coming from our politicians..our elected officials.

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