We need Timothy Geithner.
His two-places-at-once magic press act this weekend just confirms it.
It's not because the Treasury Secretary was on George Fluffalupagus' show and "Meet The Press" at the exact same time, though he gets a Ubiquitous Obama award for that. And it's not because the Geithner guillotine guessing odds flipped and flopped Sunday just as they have for several weeks while he's alternately infuriated, confused and given a little confidence to the public and Congress. Although waiting to see if he "steps down" the 40 flights of concrete stairs out of the Administration is a fun and distracting diversion and much less nerve-wracking than paying attention to the actual economy.
No, Mr. Geithner is no mere political parlor game. Even if you watch him in interviews and at hearings with the sound off, he still gives off an economic indicator as reliable as the Homeland Security color-coded advisory warnings. Let's call it the Geithner Index:
It's his forehead.
Really. Check it out next chance you get. I could be charging for this inside information (or be charged, if Eliot Spitzer were still in the right side of prosecution), it's so good. Here's how it works: count the wrinkle rows on Mr. Geithner's forehead and you can tell if he believes what he's saying or not, and to what degree. The more the forehead undulates, the more likely he's trying to sell you the equivalent of a used GM car.
I haven't figured this out more precisely, but maybe we could get one of those body language "experts" from the tabs, or a doctor, the kind who are always "not treating" the celebrities they analyze but seem to have plenty of opinions anyway.
It may even turn out to be the reverse: more lines, more truth. I just know that I'm right about the value of the indicator.
Forget virtual town halls with the President, or even hacking into the Obama twitter account. Mr. Obama's entire face is one smooth canvas. Joe Biden, well, there's just no predictive value when chemicals are involved. (As one botoxed famous actress reportedly said, "The hell with it. Let them guess what I'm feeling.")
In these uncertain times, tea leaves aren't nearly enough. Fortunately, we don't need to wonder. Five forehead folds? Code red! Sell everything!
We have a polygraph for this administration better than faith, good feelings, blind trust or Republican/Democratic Congressional panic, posturing and backlash. It's the space between Timothy Geithner's eyebrows and his hairline.
Watch and learn.
For more, read Bronstein at Large.