Why Larry Summers’ Withdrawal Is So Important

President Obama failed quietly over the weekend, and it’s important to understand why.

His failure had both everything, and nothing, to do with Syria. The withdrawal of Larry Summers as a prospective candidate to head the Fed is indicative of a number of things.

One, that the President’s persuasive powers, which were so obviously unsuccessful in persuading a skeptical American public and Congress to support the military strike in Syria, were equally unsuccessful in this regard–the President failed to build broad-based support in Congress, and particularly in the Senate, for Larry Summers as a candidate to succeed Ben Bernanke as the head of the Fed.

With the announcement, on Friday, of Jon Tester’s opposition to Summers–Tester is a leading member of the banking committee–it became clear that Summers would not be able to get the votes needed to make it out of the committee, much less get approval from the Senate.

Moreover, with 33 Democratic Senators on record supporting Janet Yellen’s candidacy, it is also clear that the Summers defeat speaks to the ascendancy of the Democratic left, and of those who want more aggressive government intervention and stimulus than either President Obama or Larry Summers appeared to want.

Indeed, Summers, who had been a prime supporter of the disaggregation of investment and commercial banking in the late 90s through the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act, became a symbol of everything that the left and the Democratic party opposes.

Additionally, he provided an opportunity for frustrated Democratic senators who feel that they have been ignored by the White House to express their opposition to the Obama policies that have, at the very least, been less than successful, and certainly, have not been fully responsive to these Senators’ or their constituents’ wishes.

Larry Summers’ nomination also failed to win broad bipartisan support because despite what everyone might think of Summers, he was an aggressive and early supporter of the near-billion dollar stimulus, earning him the everlasting enmity of Republicans both in Congress, and in the country at large.

So Summers, the former President of Harvard, will have to go back to what he is increasingly well-suited for: being a wise man, a commentator, an advisor to leading financial institutions, and one of America’s preeminent spokesmen on fiscal matters.

More generally, the growing and vociferous opposition to Summers speaks to the ongoing problem that the President will have in winning support for an attack on Syria, should the agreement with the Russians and the Syrians to degrade and destroy the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal fail.

Put another way, there is no support for a strike, and the Russians have made it clear that they will, in particular, continue to oppose any efforts in the Security Council to support a strike.

There is no reason to believe that Congress will be any more willing to support the President now than they were a week ago. In fact, if the polls and the withdrawal of Larry Summers are any guide, they will be less likely.

Read more at Forbes.com