GEITHNER'S POLITICAL SKILLS.

Shot:

In the White House, [Energy Secretary Steven] Chu describes [Transportation Secretary Ray] LaHood, a former junior high school social studies teacher, as a source of “fatherly advice” for Washington newcomers like himself.

One “cocktail situation” occurred recently at the annual Gridiron Club dinner. Mr. LaHood was seated at the head table near Mr. Chu, and between Arne Duncan and Timothy F. Geithner, the education and Treasury secretaries. The men asked Mr. LaHood if they could flee the dinner before the interminable speechifying ended. No, Mr. LaHood counseled.

“I said, ‘Look, you’re window dressing,’ ” Mr. LaHood said. “ ‘You’re more of a prop. But it’s part of what we have to do.’ ” Mr. Chu and Mr. Duncan heeded the advice; Mr. Geithner did not.

Chaser:

Former White House Press Secretary Jake Siewert is preparing for a return to government as a top counselor to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Democratic sources said.

...The decision to send such a political heavyweight to Geithner's aid seems to reflect a belief on the part of the White House that Geithner, like many of the banks he is working with, is too big to fail. In essence, Emanuel and other Obama aides are doubling down on Geithner, betting that with the right staff reinforcement he can succeed as the administration's top economic policymaker.

Siewert won't be the first operative sent to fix Treasury's political operation, but he's definitely the highest profile.

-- Tim Fernholz

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