September 22nd, 2010
11:28 AM ET
4 years ago

Dan Lothian: Summers gives reasons for White House departure

President Obama's departing director of the National Economic Council, Larry Summers, says part of his reason for stepping down was out of a "desire to think fundamental thoughts."

In an email exchange with this reporter, Summers, who helped the President develop and implement his economic policy in the first two years of his administration, also seemed eager to return to his home state of Massachusetts.

He was a frequent flyer on the shuttle between Boston's Logan airport and Reagan National, sometimes spotted carrying a soft canvas bag and hailing a cab into town.

During one commute we shared a taxi to the White House.

Summers, whose brilliant mind places him at a much higher altitude than most, seemed genuinely interested in my view of the ailing economy.

As he stared out the window on the short drive to 1600 Pennsylvania avenue, Summers reflected on the administration's policies to jump start the ailing economy, and seemed optimistic about the outcome.

On Tuesday, just a few hours after the White House released the official statement on his departure, Summers detailed some of the personal reasons behind his decision to leave.

"Harvard 2 year rule, " he wrote in his email, referring to the university's two year leave policy for professors.

Summers also said that he wanted to get back to his family in Boston and that his departure was part of a "long plan."

That point was repeated by several administration officials who appeared to be going out of the way to show that nothing, other than a planned exit, was behind his departure.

In a statement on Tuesday, President Obama praised Summers.

"I will always be grateful that at a time of great peril for our country, a man of Larry's brilliance, experience and judgment was willing to answer the call and lead our economic team," Obama said.


Filed under: issues • Larry Summers • White House Dispatch
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Four and The Door

    Summers, who helped the President develop and implement his economic policy in the first two years of his administration, also seemed eager to return to his home state of Massachusetts.
    _____________________________________________________
    This would make a great SouthWest Airlines commercial..." Gotta Get Away?!?"

    September 22, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  2. Tony 140

    I'm pretty tired of hearing how "brilliant" someone is because they are from Harvard. If he is so economically brilliant, how come all this stuff coming out of thw White House and Congress didn't work. I guess he leaves before the next shoe falls so he can preserve his resume and does not have to be accountable for this debacle. Just reaffirms that intellect and an Ivy League education does not make the LEADER.

    September 22, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  3. James

    Larry Summers instructed Harvard to invest in mortgage securites.

    Harvard lost a Billion dollars due to Summers.

    Summers is now going back to work at Harvard.

    Is there something fishy about this.

    Crroks of a feather flock together.

    Prosecute this man

    September 22, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  4. GOP Scorched Earth Politics

    The architect and endorser of the Clinton-era deregulation of Wall Street had no business being in charge. I never was fond of Clinton and his cozy relationship with Big $ Corporate America and their entourage of lobbyists. This is why "the Clintons" lost to Obama.

    September 22, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  5. Steve- Illinois

    "I will always be grateful that at a time of great peril for our country, a man of Larry's brilliance, experience and judgment was willing to answer the call and lead our economic team," Obama said.

    He left out-"lead our economic team to push policies that were absolute failures!"

    Now maybe the President will wise up and hire some people that actually have experience producing real results, instead of hypothesis!

    Common Sense!

    September 22, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  6. Mark

    He Blew it! Next time, try someone who has held a real job- real payroll, real taxes- not some academic schmuck.

    September 22, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  7. Steve (the real one)

    President Obama's departing director of the National Economic Council, Larry Summers, says part of his reason for stepping down was out of a "desire to think fundamental thoughts."
    ------------–
    Exactly what does this mean? Is there a no fundamental thinking allowed policy in the administration?

    September 22, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  8. Gobama!

    He left the administration in order to retain his teaching position at Harvard. This is extremely clearly laid out here, and very easy to understand. Laughing, now, at all you republicans claiming he is merely "jumping ship" You republicans are ridiculous!

    September 22, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  9. Snow

    Summers has been immune from rational thought since he went to the White House.

    September 22, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  10. Peter s

    Wish you well Larry Summers!!! your contributions have helped avoid another depression!!

    September 22, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |