Did he jump or was he pushed?

Glenn Hubbard has resigned as Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. None of the news stories I’ve seen so far even asks the obvious question: Was the decision that Hubbard needed to “spend more time with his family” his, or the President’s?

His resigning, and his being fired, are two very different events. Did he finally decide that the cost, in professional terms, of defending the indefensible was getting too high? Had he lost one too many internal battles, and decided to stop trying to provide adult supervision to the fiscal behavior of the credit-card conservatives? Or did the Mayberry Machiavellis just decide to complete a clean sweep of the economic team that presided over the disaster of the last two years?

It’s hard for me to believe that no one in the Washington press corps knows the answer; what’s the point of all that suck-up journalism if it doesn’t buy you access? The stories I saw didn’t quote any statement from the President, which might or might not have provided a hint.

But I’d settle for simply having the question posed. “White House officials asked on background were unwilling to say whether Mr. Hubbard’s departure was on his own initiative or at the suggestion of the President or his senior staff.” That would remind the naive reader that the question was open, and assure the sophisticated reader that the reporter was actually trying to do some reporting, rather than copying press releases over in his own handwriting.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com