They’re both brainy as hell. Jon Stewart (and Darren) seem to have a thing for Elizabeth Warren, though she is decidedly academic-looking; I think her appeal is in her earnestness and her intelligence, which I love. Geithner, on the other hand, seems to be off-putting to the average person, a cold fish perhaps. Not much of a sense of humor. Oh, and he worked for Wall Street, so he must be evil. Today’s Huffpost features an article reporting that Tim Geithner is opposed to Elizabeth Warren being appointed head of the new consumer protection agency, even though she was essentially the originator of the idea. The writer alleges that he opposes her because she has questioned him knowledgeably and perhaps even embarrassed him with her pointed questions. She’s good at that. This exchange, as described (I haven’t seen this particular video), would make it easy to think his opposition to her appointment might be based on personal feelings. But I have read two extensive articles about Geithner, in the Atlantic and the New Yorker. In both, Geithner is described as ethical, conscientious, a hard worker who has chosen public service over much more lucrative jobs for most of his life, and most of all, one of the few people in the world who intuitively understand how the world economy works. He has argued with minds equal to his own and been proven right over and over. This is why Obama keeps him on, and this is why he might see something Elizabeth Warren doesn’t see, as brilliant as she is. It is very easy to make Wall Street the scapegoat of every problem, and she does seem to have this attitude (along with almost everyone else). But to Geithner, no matter how awful the crimes of Wall Street, it still needs to be preserved. Think of it this way. Prisons are bad. The facilities are less than human: Aryan gangs are their essential governors, no one gets rehabilitated (in fact, they usually learn new and exciting crimes to audition when they get out), and there are too many nonviolent offenders with long sentences in them (the American incarceration rate is the highest in the world). Also, they’re really expensive. But do you want to do away with prisons? Not really. Geithner sees the dangers of completely undermining Wall Street, no matter how much fun that would be for all of us. And it would be. It would be. And Elizabeth Warren may be like most of us, in that she might not understand that as well as Geithner does. I’m not an economist. But I have learned that people’s characters don’t tend to change over time. And Geithner is renowned (by the people who actually know him) as a straight arrow.