- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 25, 2008


When word got out that President-elect Barack Obama might choose Lawrence H. Summers to assume the same Treasury secretary post he once held, women’s groups still angry about remarks he made in 2005 about women and math made their voices heard.

But on Monday, when Mr. Obama instead tapped Mr. Summers to be a key member of his economic team and director of the National Economic Council, groups that had been protesting or appearing on cable shows did not put out statements, and did not respond to requests for comment.

While president of Harvard University in January 2005, Mr. Summers stirred up controversy by saying at an economics conference that “innate” differences between men and women could explain why there are fewer female scientists.

Some found the remarks - an exact transcript of which is not available - provocative and worthy of further discussion, while others demanded he be fired and labeled him a sexist.

He ultimately resigned his post after a vote of no confidence from the faculty.

The remarks were rehashed in the days after this year’s election, when Mr. Summers’ name was raised as in connection with the Treasury slot.

New Agenda, a group that formed to support Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton even after Mr. Obama won the primary, declared Mr. Summers had a “clear and unequivocal record of sexism and misogyny.”

On Monday, the group’s Web site had no mention of Mr. Summers beyond a Nov. 6 release mentioning his candidacy for Treasury.

Blogger Matt Stoller wrote at OpenLeft.com that choosing Mr. Summers for Treasury would “not be a good thing,” arguing that he is partially responsible for the current economic crisis.

He also posted a petition to Obama transition chief John Podesta asking for him not to consider Mr. Summers for Treasury.

The petition detailed several complaints beyond the remarks at Harvard, including his stance on trade and a 1991 remark in a private memo then as chief economist for the World Bank that underpopulated countries in Africa were “under-polluted.”

The National Economic Council post does not need Senate confirmation, which could be one reason for the silence.

Little of the criticism in the blogosphere had to do with Mr. Summers’ comments, but instead focused on his ties to the Clinton administration, with some calling him a “retread.”

Meanwhile, both Democrats and Republicans in Congress praised Mr. Summers’ announcement, saying Mr. Obama was tapping someone with experience and good judgment.

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