The above picture is Alexander II, not Steve Rattner.
Why is Steve Rattner resigning from the Obama administration so soon? Remember that when he quit his investment firm to take his auto czarito job he sent out an email declaring he was leaving Wall Street to begin “a new phase of my life, in the public sector.” Short phase. Why? 1) The pay-to-play scandal is embarrassing. Obama let him do his job through the bankruptcy and then quit gracefully when fewer people would be looking. 2) Also, he needs to spend his efforts making sure the “unlikely” charges against him stay unlikely; 3) He’s too much of a press hound for the Obama crew**; 4) He’s enough of a press hound to know that if he quits now he can get some suckup stories about how he’s “going out on top;”) 5) Indeed, the glamour work of the auto task force is done. All that’s left to do is watch the bailed out auto companies fail to meet expectations, and maybe fail period. It’s either up or out for an ambitious guy like Rattner. There was no up. So it’s out. 6) Ron Bloom always had the power. Rattner was the front man. That wasn’t about to change. 7) He shares Sarah Palin’s career adviser; 8) Ron Gettelfinger never liked him anyway. 9) Pinch needs him. 10) He wants to direct. …
Rattner says he wants to spend more time with his family. I’d bet that means the probe took a turn for the worse in recent days. We’ll see soon enough, but something had to happen to prompt Rattner to quit so suddenly in the middle of Obama’s campaign to remake the auto industry.
Bloom will step into Rattner’s shoes, but Bloom has even less relevant experience than Rattner. Not only has Bloom never apparently worked in the auto industry — he was an official in the steelworkers union before this — but he doesn’t have Rattner’s breadth of experience on Wall Street, either, although he did work as an investment banker for ten years. What qualifications does Bloom have to remake the auto industry? He was a union negotiator … and that’s about it.
David Kurtz at TPM:
When I first saw word within the last hour that Steve Rattner was stepping down as car czar, my first reaction was that the other shoe is about the drop in the sweeping pension fraud case in New York and New Mexico that has entangled Rattner and his former investment firm, Quadrangle. But the Treasury Department’s announcement and the media coverage seems very focused on this being a natural move now that Chrysler and GM have emerged from bankruptcy, with the pension fraud case being a minor mention (if mentioned at all). Maybe my muckraking antenna are oversensitive. Then again …
Peter Cohan at Daily Finance:
Meanwhile, it may well be that Rattner has some legal problems to tend to. His firm, Quadrangle Group, is under investigation for making payments to an indicted intermediary — Hank Morris — an associate of New York’s former comptroller to help Quandrangle raise money from the New York state pension plan. Did the airing of the details of this investigation get squashed until after Chrysler and GM exited bankruptcy? If so, it will not be too shocking to see more information come out about the Quadrangle legal situation once Rattner is out of Washington.
And come to think of it, if that turns out to be an accurate guess then President Obama may want steer clear of Rattner’s Martha’s Vineyard estate — at least for this summer.
Joe Weisenthal at Clusterstock:
The politics and wisdom of saving the car companies aside, we have to hand it to Steve Rattner — and to Obama for picking Rattner.
They got done what they wanted to do, and both Chrysler and GM went through the bankruptcy WAY smoother and faster than anyone expected. Again, there was controversy, but they certainly got the job done. Even “chooch-gate” couldn’t derail him.
UPDATE: Ed Morrissey
Zachary Roth at TPM