Lawrence Summers Is a White House Playa

Lawrence H. Summers will be Obama's director of his National Economic Council. We all know what a great job Summers did as Harvard President (2001-2006), especially when he theorized about innate differences between women and men that explained the gender gap in the sciences. He did apologize for his insensitive remarks here.

I remember Larry Summers long before his gaffe about women. As chief economist for the World Bank, Summers wrote a December 12, 1991 memo, leaked to the press in February 1992, in which he contemplated the shipment of toxic waste to parts of Africa.

Larry S. must be regretting that intelligence lapse too.

His first sentence underscores a recognition that his idea may be just a wee bit politically sensitive:

Dirty' Industries: Just between you and me, shouldn't the World Bank be encouraging MORE migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs [Less Developed Countries]?

One reason, he opined:

The costs of pollution are likely to be non-linear as the initial increments of pollution probably have very low cost. I've always though that under-populated countries in Africa are vastly UNDER-polluted, their air quality is probably vastly inefficiently low compared to Los Angeles or Mexico City.

Summers was thought earlier to be on the short list for Treasury Secretary, as he once had been under Bill Clinton. As Senior White House advisor to the President, there will be no Congressional hearing examining his appointment. Thus, it falls back on the rest of us to give this Obama administration official the hot spotlight of public scrutiny.