President-elect Barack Obama has set a new standard. He has asked that we set aside our personal grievances and come together as a nation to address the great challenges we are facing. As we all know the most pressing issue before is the global financial crisis. Nothing can move forward until we begin to resolve this overwhelming problem.
It is with this in mind that I am reacting to a very strong email I received yesterday. NOW, the women's rights organization, is demanding the removal of Larry Summers' name from consideration as Secretary of the Treasury. They are insisting that the mistake he made four years ago should disqualify him from this position. I strenuously disagree. Larry Summers is one of the best financial minds in the country. He has a long and distinguished career, firsthand experience and is a brilliant visionary. While it is true he made a mistake that raised the ire of women, let us remember that he came forward, acknowledged his error, and sincerely and repeatedly apologized. He has learned from and was humbled by that experience. Who among us has never said something we wished we hadn't and how many are willing to publicly accept responsibility? How can we ask that such an esteemed career be discounted and how can we deprive the American people of the skill and leadership of this brilliant man? The financial crisis we are facing is unparalleled and we need all the best minds working together to reverse this decline. I understand the concerns of these women but it is time to forgive and move forward in the interest of the greater good.
The Democratic Party has a history of trying to address the concerns of various constituencies. All too often the competing interests of these groups have taken us off course. We now have a unique opportunity, a mandate if you will. It is essential to set aside competing agendas and be single minded in our focus to solve the most pressing issues before us. It is my deepest hope that everyone will recognize, as President-elect Obama said, "the steep climb" we are facing and stand with him as he selects the best among us to move the country forward. There cannot be solutions to these separate concerns until we find our way out of this crisis. We need to leave partisanship and division at the door.