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Obama Defends Larry Summers Against Attacks by "Liberal Media"

President defends man who critics says represents destructive 'Washington-to-Wall Street revolving door'

Jon Queally, staff writer

When the Obama administration recently floated the idea of Larry Summers being President Obama's nomination for Fed Chairman, a chorus of progressive critics rose up to decry Summers as among the worse of possible choices and lambasted the White House for even considering someone so closely associated with Wall Street largesse and the financial deregulation regime that paved the way for the economic crash of 2008.

In just one example, Robert Scheer, columnist and editor of TruthDig, said the choice made him almost "gag" with displeasure, saying that Summers "is in large measure responsible for [the disappearance of the American middle class], and twice now, after top level economic postings in both the Clinton and Obama administrations, he has returned to gorge himself at the Wall Street trough."

Despite the waves of criticism, the president himself doubled down on his support for Summers in a closed-door meeting with House Democrats on Wednesday.

According to the New York Times, citing House Democrats who were in the meeting, Obama responded to "a sharp question" from Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado by saying he thought "Mr. Summers had been maligned in the liberal news media."

The reference by Obama appeared to be about the Huffington Post.

As The Hill reports:

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) said after the meeting that Obama told the Democrats that “it’s unfair to criticize Summers for the fact that the stimulus bill wasn’t even larger, because who amongst us thinks that you could have passed a larger stimulus bill?”

Obama cautioned the lawmakers “not to believe everything you read in The Huffington Post,” Sherman added.

“He gave a full-throated defense of Larry Summers and his record in helping to save the economy in the dark days of ’09,” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said. Obama, he added, “felt that Larry had been badly treated by some on the left and in the press.”

Commenting on being mentioned by the president, the Huffington Post itself reported that Obama "ripped" the online news site for making Summers "a progressive whipping boy."

Critics of Summers, however, are not only focused on his troubling relationship with Wall Street, but also cite a history of misogyny and derogatory comments about women that they say should give Obama only more reasons to axe him from consideration.

As the Huffington Post reports, female members of Congress as well as women advocacy groups are pushing for Obama to nominate current vice chairman Janet Yellen to the post, not Summers:

The feminist group Ultraviolet has called on Obama to choose Yellen, saying Summers is "a man known for his offensive and callous opinions on women." The National Organization for Women also endorsed Yellen last week in a statement criticizing Summers' record on bank regulation.

"Janet Yellen was one of the few in the Fed system to sound the alarm on subprime mortgages in 2007, while Lawrence Summers shut down Brooksley Born’s effort to crack down on derivatives,” said NOW President Terry O’Neill. “It’s not hard to connect the dots: lax regulation contributed to the financial meltdown that ushered in the ‘Great Recession’ -- with devastating impacts on women, who have less savings to fall back on because of an enduring gender wage gap. Lawrence Summers can't be trusted to understand the everyday economic problems women face."


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