New York’s cover story about the strained relationship between Obama and Wall Street doesn’t offer much in the way of new information, but author John Heilemann did pepper the article with some juicy Glengarry-Glen-Ross-meets-The West Wing-style quotes.
The best among them is a cringe-inducing moment in a section devoted to the lack of respect the Treasury secretary receives.
The idea that Geithner is a Goldman alumnus has been repeated by everyone from congressmen to people asking him questions in online forums. Geithner has tried to dispel the misapprehension, but the effort may be futile. One night over dinner with White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, Emanuel’s wife, Amy Rule, remarked that Geithner “must be looking forward to going back to that nice spot you have waiting for you at Goldman.”
Geithner ends up okay in the end, since he and the president share a “man-crush,” according to David Axelrod.
One day in the winter of 2009, Emanuel was meeting with a senior Goldman executive and offered some Rahmian advice. “You don’t fucking get it!” he said. “You’re making $600,000 a year and you think you’re a fucking saint—because you were making $50 million before. But as far as the guy across the street thinks, you’re still a fucking pig! Reduce it to zero and he’ll love you!”
What’s not in dispute is that the feelings of rupture are mutual. “[Obama] thinks the Wall Street guys are just disconnected from reality,” says a White House official. “He still takes the meetings with them, but his attitude now is like, ‘Whatever.’ ”
Heilemann’s interviewing methods came under scrutiny with the release of his book Game Change (written with Mark Halperin), so a degree of skepticism may be useful here. We like living in a world where Axelrod uses the term “man-crush,” though.