And that’s when Timmy got thrown in the well, right?

Book: Treasury Secretary ignored Obama directive

A new book offering an insider’s account of the White House’s response to the financial crisis says that U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner ignored an order from President Barack Obama calling for reconstruction of major banks.

According to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Suskind, the incident is just one of several in which Obama struggled with a divided group of advisers, some of whom he didn’t initially consider for their high-profile roles.

Suskind interviewed more than 200 people, including Obama, Geithner and other top officials for “Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and The Education of A President,” which will be released Sept. 20. The Associated Press purchased a copy on Thursday.

The book states Geithner and the Treasury Department ignored a March 2009 order to consider dissolving banking giant Citigroup while continuing stress tests on banks, which were burdened with toxic mortgage assets.

In the book, Obama does not deny Suskind’s account, but does not reveal what he told Geithner when he found out. “Agitated may be too strong a word,” Suskind quotes Obama as saying. Obama says later in the book that he was trying to be decisive but “the speed with which the bureaucracy could exercise my decision was slower than I wanted.”

Geithner says in the book that he did not recall that Obama was mad at him about the Citigroup decision and rejected allegations contained in White House documents that his department had been slow to enact the president’s plans.

“I don’t slow walk the president on anything,” Geithner told Suskind.

“The Citbank incident, and others like it, reflected a more pernicious and personal dilemma emerging from inside the administration: that the young president’s authority was being systematically undermined or hedged by his seasoned advisers,” Suskind writes.

Every place I ever worked if you don’t follow orders you get fired.

Except the army – they’ll shoot you for that.

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25 Responses to And that’s when Timmy got thrown in the well, right?

  1. myiq2xu says:


    Let’s be clear. I’m sure Suskind’s sources did indeed tell him what he reported in the book. But there is plenty of reason to believe that this idea, that Obama “ordered” a Citigroup resolution plan and Geithner ignored it, is just an effort to shift blame for an unpopular pro-bank strategy to Geithner.

    Look at the spin: we are supposed to believe Obama wanted to be tougher with the banks and was thwarted by his Geithner. Does that mean we are also supposed to believe that Eric Holder also ignored Obama’s orders to prosecute?

    The only problem with this effort at revisionist history is that it is completely out of synch with other actions the Administration took in February and March 2009 that had to have been approved by Obama. And his posture before this supposed Citigroup “decision” and after, has been consistently bank friendly. Obama knew from the example of the Roosevelt administration, which he claimed to have studied in preparing his inaugural address, that the time to undertake any aggressive action was at the very start of his term, in that critical speech. March was far too late to start studying the question of whether to nationalize Citigroup.

    Remember, Obama has been on the defensive since mid 2010, when it looked like the Democratic party was going to take big mid-term losses and they turned out to be even worse than expected. The realization that the Administration’s poor policy choices were coming home to roost would no doubt lead to trying to shift blame off the President on to convenient scapegoats. That mid 2010 timeframe likely coincided with Suskind’s research and interviews. And the “inexperienced President” positioning also serves to explain why an order-bucking staffer like Geithner is still in the saddle. Obama has since leashed and collared his advisors; this failure to exercise a firm hand was a short-lived problem, although the early mistakes that resulted still haunt him. A clever story, no?

    • DandyTiger says:

      I agree with that and seems so obvious from other things we’ve seen. I wonder if Ron just reported what he dug up and believed the obvious shift in blame, or if he’s participating in the blame game himself.

    • Dario says:

      Bank of America and Citigroup are still on the edge, struggling. It may very well be that Obama is afraid those two institutions might fold and he wants to blame Tim for Citigroup. But the funny thing is that BAC is the bank that has the most difficulties because of its merge with Countrywide.

  2. votermom says:

    The wheels on the bus go bump bump bump
    Over Timmy & Daley

    It’s a ridiculous story. Timmy is and always has been in the driver’s seat. Obama has no say and no clue.

  3. DeniseVB says:

    Well, when you pick and congress approves a guy who can’t figure out turbo-tax to run the the treasury……just sayin’ 😀

    • Dario says:

      It’s the money Tim could save that made him incapable of answering honestly the questions from the software.

  4. DandyTiger says:

    Obama and his staff are bastard coated bastards with bastard filling.

  5. WMCB says:

    LMAO! Yeah, Obama was all noble and trying to do the right thing and shit, and his treasury secretary just ignored the direct instructions of the President of the United States. And nothing was said or done about that – everyone just let it happen, because……… everyone was so scared of the immense power and charisma that is….Timmy Geithner??? Poor POTUS tried. He TRIED, I tell you, but was foiled by the evil Timmeh.

    I despise Geithner, but this is the most laughable spin I’ve ever heard.

    • Mimi says:

      So the general conclusion of this episode is what exactly? Obama is a wienie. Or he forgot. Or Geithner said he would give him a swirlie if he ever told anyone. Maybe he was drunk. He was depressed and frozen by indecision and just let it pass. He did not understand what was happening. He forgot he went to law school and could do something like legally about it. Michelle told him to STFU and he sent him to his room. Are these people twelve years old including Mr. Suskind?

      • WMCB says:

        (None of this will make sense unless you are a Doctor Who fan)

        One of the things I used to say about Hillary, and a reason she was the better choice, is that she knew how govt and even bureaucracies work. Our govt is a complicated, patched-together machine, an accretion of the years, and it takes a good deal of skill to know how to operate all its levers.

        When I read this I had a mental image of Obama huddled inside the inactive Tardis, tentatively fiddling with a dial, banging a button in frustration, and saying in a petulantly commanding voice: “I want it to go. Make it GO!”

        Then I can see Hillary in my mind’s eye – dashing about like The Doctor, yanking levers and twisting valves and spinning dials, while the “swoop, swoop swoop” sound starts up….

    • yttik says:

      One problem with the book is that what is revealed, even if it’s mostly false, are simply things that make her feel more human. Palin is supposed to be this racist, book burning, right wing caricature, and now they claim she was actually dating black guys and doing cocaine.

    • DeniseVB says:

      Didn’t the AP assign 11 fact checkers to Sarah’s book Going Rogue ? Funny they didn’t find all this “good” stuff 😉

      McGinnis’s book is so over-the-top, obviously interviewing people who hate her and political enemies. His target audience will be rabid Sarah-haters, the really dumb ones at that. The juiciest tidbits will be highlighted in all the lefty blogs, where you can read for free !

  6. Valhalla says:

    bwahahah! This is a laughable attempt at retroactive spin. The only “transparency” of the Obama admin is the transparency of its lies. Citigroup and assorted other Big Banking pals have owned Obama from the start. Others who’ve contradicted Obama were out on their ear before you could blink.

    When will the sorry excuses for Obama stop? They could at least marshall their “creative class” energies and try to create new sorry excuses. This whole if-only-the-tsar-knew! baloney started before he was even sworn in. It’s boring.

  7. Mary says:

    This is all such smoke and mirrors bs.

    Christina Romer herself has said that Barak Obama KNEW his choices in the crisis, that all opinions were openly offered (she did admit Summers is difficult), and that all choices made were OBAMA’S, period. He CHOSE the smaller stimulus and other options, even if Romer encouraged otherwiise.

    This crap was pushed by Pflouffe or Axelrod or Jarrett.

    Gimme a break.

  8. Three Wickets says:

    This is such bullshit. BO just wants to paint himself as an anti-banker reformer for the 2012 campaign. Problem is, the Chair of Citi Richard Parsons then (from 2009) and now is a close friend of Obama. In fact Parsons when he was Chair at Time Warner (till 2008) helped steer CNN in favor of Obama during the last campaign. Also Obama’s former budget director Peter Orszag who helped structure the Citi bailout with taxpayer capital is now today, wait for it…the VIce Chair of the Global Banking Group at Citi.

  9. Three Wickets says:

    What Wall Street doesn’t want us to know about oil prices On Wall Street speculation in oil.

    @SenatorSanders: The top six financial institutions in this country own assets equal to more than 60% of our gross domestic product.

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