WASHINGTON -- There is a condign symmetry about this financial crisis. A government-induced crisis is getting a government-insured resolution. The excesses of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are being mopped up by huge federal spending, made all the more massive by all the reckless endeavors of the politicians, the regulators and the financiers who frivoled with the intemperance of Freddie and Fannie. Now President-elect Barack Obama has perhaps faced up to the mess. He has not shied away from bringing former Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers onto his economic team as head of his National Economic Council.
Summers was a proper critic of Freddie and Fannie, having noted this past summer that "the illusion that the companies were doing virtuous work made it impossible to build a political case for serious regulation." This virtuous work was extending mortgages to those who could not afford those mortgages. The toxic mortgages were then bundled in with healthy mortgages and sold around the world by Wall Street geniuses like some enormous chain letter whose day of reckoning came some months ago.
The endeavor was a fantasy that had to end badly, and so it has. Yet at a certain level, the constituent elements of the Democratic Party are given to fantasy and excess. Consider the most vocal critics of Summers. They are not bankers or economists. They are feminists, often feminist scientists, who forced him out of the presidency of Harvard for his recognition that women of genius are not as plentiful as men of genius in the sciences and math. Now, what he cited is a fact. Summers drew no invidious conclusions and offered no program that would limit the number of lady scientists. He just noted the data in a forum supposedly open to free discourse. Kaboom -- the women of the fevered brow drove him from office. Remind me not to read a book aloud in Harvard Yard.
Now, in this time of economic crisis, the women of the fevered brow attempted to keep Summers out of the Obama government despite his demonstrated economic acumen. And remember these feminists claim to be a force for justice and fairness. How long do they want to ban Summers from public life?