Poor Tim Geithner! He can't find anybody to work for him. The vetting process for administration appointments has only slowed and grown even more stringent due to some early embarrassments with candidates who it turned out -- funny story! -- had underpaid their taxes.
Add to the arduousness of vettings the likelihood that very few people smart enough to qualify for a Treasury Department post would be stupid enough to put their own professional reputation on the line overseeing the rapid and apparently unstoppable implosion of the largest economy in world history and you have a very lonely Tim Geithner working 26 hours a day, alone.
A month and a half into the job, Geithner has yet to fill 14 key positions. He has no deputy secretary and no deputy under secretaries. His deputy nominee, Annette Nazareth, just withdrew her name from consideration in part because the process was taking so long. And the nominee for undersecretary for international affairs, Caroline Atkinson, took herself out of the running for reasons unknown. (Spooky.)
This miserable, lonely arrangement is an awful thing for Secretary Geithner and indeed for America, because if there were any government department in need of bodies right now it's the one that has to deal with money. And yes, while any smart economist's self-preservation instinct would have to kick in when they get an invite to rearrange deck chairs on the secretary's Titanic, you would hope that they might also feel some stirring of, oh, "patriotic duty" or whatever when called upon to help their country.
One thing is clear: Treasury is running out of names. Let's hope the latest batch of nominees -- to be announced officially on Monday -- works out a little better than the previous one.