If you are slated to be interviewed on one of the Sunday news programs — an essential part of your preparation is to think up all the questions you hope won’t be asked — and figure out what you will say if the moderator disappoints you and throws a tough one at you.
Christina Romer, Chair of the White House Council on Economics appeared on Fox News Sunday today. Toward the end of her interview, Chris Wallace hit her with one of those questions she obviously would rather not field. In this case she seemed under-prepared.
Wallace asked about growing calls for Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to resign. The correct way to answer would be to say something pithy like:
“He is doing a great job under the most difficult circumstances. He has the absolute confidence of the President and key Congressional leaders. I expect him to continue in the job for a long time helping us out of the fiscal mess we inherited.”
Instead, Ms Romer hemmed and hawed. She called the clamor for Geithner to go “silly” and she looked decidedly uncomfortable in handling the matter. She got in most of the points we outline above…but it took her too long to do so and she did not convey much confidence with her answers.
Here is the transcript of that portion of the interview
WALLACE: There are growing calls — relatively small, I grant you, but growing — for the resignation of Timothy Geithner. What would the impact be on the financial markets and the president’s recovery plan if Geithner were to step down and we didn’t have a treasury secretary for the next few months?
ROMER: I think — I think all of this discussion is — is really silly. Tim Geithner is an excellent secretary of the treasury. He has been dealt an unbelievably difficult hand to deal with. But he’s actually doing a fantastic job, right?
He announced back in February an overall plan for how we’re going to deal with the financial system. And just remember, what he’s been doing in the last several months is just filling in all the pieces.
We’ve had the housing program. We’ve had the small business program. We’ve gotten the consumer and business lending initiative going. Just last week we…
WALLACE: But there are growing calls building up there on Capitol Hill for him to step down. So it isn’t silly.
ROMER: I think he is — you know, the crucial thing is he is doing an excellent job. He has the complete support of the president. And he’s going to keep doing an excellent job.
He’s going to — we’re going to –– as you pointed out, we’re going to be announcing how we’re going to get the toxic assets off banks’ balance sheets, and there’ll be other pieces to come as well.
When answering this kind of question — you need to make your point and stop. If you keep rambling on, you only undermine your case.