Obama Could Name Former Harvard U. President To Top Treasury Post

This story was written by Lois E. Beckett, Harvard Crimson


If Barack Obama wins Tuesday's election, former Harvard University President Lawrence H. Summers could be selected for his second term as Secretary of the Treasury as soon as Friday at least according to the Washington rumor mill.

Obama may announce several key cabinet positions by the end of the week if he is elected president, said Alexander I. Burns 08, who writes for The Politico.

Summers served as Secretary of the Treasury under Bill Clinton. He has been reported as a possibility for the head treasury position in an Obama administration.

The Washington rumor mill suggests that the Summers thing is quite serious, Burns said. But Burns said he was still skeptical that Obama would choose Summers as a comeback kid treasury secretary.

If hes going to stick with this Change you can believe in message, bringing back a former treasury secretary is not necessarily the best way to communicate that, Burns said. That said, people in this town regard Summers very, very highly, and if Obamas goal is not to so much stick with his campaign message but to reassure the markets and the policy elite, hes a very natural choice.

Summers was mum regarding his political chances. "Usually those who know don't talk and those who talk don't know," he wrote in an e-mailed statement last night.

A McCain presidency would likely bring many fewer Harvard affiliates to Washington, according to Burns and recent media reports.

Among the other Harvard names being floated for top positions, Samantha Power, a scholar of genocide based at the Harvard Kennedy School, is one of the most interesting, Burns said. Given how controversial she was in the Democratic primary, I do think she clearly has some kind of toe hold inside the Obama campaign, or her name wouldnt be coming up at this point, Burns said.

Power called Hillary Clinton a monster during an interview with a British paper last March. The fact that she recently married close Obama adviser and Harvard Law School Professor Cass R. Sunstein 75 doesnt hurt her chances, Burns said.

Burns, who isa former head of the Harvard Political Review, sat down with The Crimson yesterday afternoon for a half-hour chat on the eve of the election. He said he timed the 3:00 p.m. interview for a time when both Obama and McCain would be in transit between their scheduled events, which he had memorized.

Burns started working for The Politico less than two weeks after he graduated, and hes been riding the tide of the presidential race since then. He said that its sometimes hard to know whether the names now being floated for possible cabinet positions are real possibilities or empty compliments.

Some of it the campaigns put out trying to reward their supporters by getting them talked about in a nice way, he said.

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