The emerging conventional wisdom is that the appointments process is broken:
H. Rodgin Cohen, “the leading candidate for Deputy Treasury Secretary, has withdrawn from consideration,” George Stephanoupoulous reports. He adds, “Cohen had risen to the top after the withdrawal last week of expected deputy treasury secretary pick Annette Nazareth.”
Something’s wrong with this picture.
Maybe there is something to that. On the other hand, this is a description of H. Rodgin Cohen at Naked Capitalism:
Sullivan & Cromwell has long been the outside counsel for Goldman, and outside counsel is a vastly more important role for a securities firm than just about any other type of business. In the stone ages, when I worked for a few years at Goldman, certain S&C partners had so much clout at Goldman that they could get a mid-level banker fired. And even then, “Rodg”, head of the banking practice, was a very influential figure at Goldman.
After I left Goldman, I was involved in a behind the scenes role on a deal that broke new ground from a regulator standpoint. Cohen was representing the other side, the target of a minority investment. I was later told by a senior bank regulator that Cohen worked against my client’s interest in a particularly duplicitous way.
So Cohen is not only deeply tied to entrenched interests, but he plays a ruthless game, with a mild manner that would lead you not to suspect him of that sort of behavior.
Considering the role Goldman Sachs and other ruthless insiders had in creating this mess, I’m thinking it is pretty clear the appointments process and the tough standards Obama has set are working as intended.