It is a sad spectacle. After elbowing their way onto the House Oversight Committee, it's insanely wealthy and powerful members grabbed their fifteen minutes of fame, held it close, and rubbed their faces all over it. Mugging for the cameras and battling each other for that viral YouTube manna, the sorry kabuki affair is appalling. What has America become? Timothy F. Geithner is the son of an international diplomat, and spent all his formative years outside the US, immersed in education and a family heritage of service to the nation. He grew up in Zimbabwe, Zambia, India and Thailand. He went to High School in Bangkok. He learned Mandarin while attending Peking University. He speaks Japanese. He has degrees in Economics and East Asian studies from Johns Hopkins University. He spent his entire working life in the service of The United States of America, all in finance and economics. If there was an idiosyncratic intellectual all star team, Geithner would be an alternate captain. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner makes a pretty comfortable living, as the nations Treasury Secretary should. Still, except for the other career administrative shleps, everyone around Geithner has made more money than him, and all have upwardly mobile trajectories. There are people who take orders from him who have made millions. They come from private business, where the same skills and understanding earn vastly more in return. This is the sad predicament for the career civil servant; he toils away in the service of others while the others make all the coin and get all the girls. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner is not a warm person. He is aloof, small, weird in some hard to put your finger on it kind of way. He looks constantly troubled and impatient. He appears to reserve a special well of disdain for stupid people. This is both funny and entertaining. With everything so achingly obvious to him, he wonders at the inability of others to see what is right before their dull, idiot eyes. He has smokers' teeth. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner speaks as if his words are trying to catch up to his thoughts. There is a stammer, just waiting to break free. He does not consider in the way of wise old academics, but rather as a man of small voice fighting to be heard. The only thing of value he truly has after a life outside of private enterprise is his character and unwavering loyalty. When these are called into question, Geithner can fill the room with disgust and scornful rebuke. Coiled to defend himself, he looks somewhat mean. As president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Geithner was only two job openings away from done. King of the castle, end of the line. He turned down the offer to be CEO of Citigroup and billions in cash and prizes, and took the job as a salaried man, United States Treasury Secretary, Timothy F. Geithner. He says he did so out of a family sense of loyalty to America, and a lifetime service to its people. That, and insanity are the only plausible reasons to give up the stratosphere as a mighty CEO. And so it one day came to pass that Timothy F. Geithner stepped into history as the man holding the smouldering potato's in the teeth of an unprecedented and fast moving financial tsunami. Did he reflect on that Citigroup gig as he listened to Obama ask him to put his reputation on the line and take the reins at Treasury? What was he thinking about as he watched Hank Paulson, his potential predecessor, face the press corps with no sleep and no respite? All we know is that when the whistle blew, he stepped out of the trenches and onto the fire ravaged open fields. Somehow, some way, Geithner reached the other side. He and a tight collection of the greatest minds in economics and finance pulled the break and saved the train wreck. Every minute was precious, every conversation urgent. There were no precedents, and no old timers to ask for advice. The financial architecture of the world was swaying wildly in the storm, and doing something - anything - was better than watching the whole rickety business tumble apart. So urgent in fact, that political considerations and technical legalize occasionally went by the wayside. It was a "near run thing".
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