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Are the Geeks in Charge?

- February 19, 2009

bq. Orszag’s emergence as a central figure and key negotiator in Obama’s economic policy team has come as a bit of a surprise to watchers of the administration, from Reid on down.

From this piece in Politico. I enjoyed the concluding anecdote:

bq. It’s an empiricism that extends to life around his spacious new office. The budget director spoke to Politico on the side of his office he refers to as “the living room.” In it, a small red sofa and two hard wooden armchairs face a marble fireplace. When Orszag arrived for his first weekend of work on a snowy January day, there were logs neatly stacked.

bq. “It still seemed a little suspicious. So I lit a piece of paper to see if it vented,” Orszag said. The smoke went up the chimney.

bq. “So then we lit a few logs. It was venting. It was fine,” he said. The only problem: The Secret Service had capped the building’s chimneys. Smoke alarms started going off upstairs, and the building was evacuated.

bq. And though Orzag wasn’t publicly named as the culprit (“Smoke Linked to Attempt to Use 2nd-Floor Fireplace,” was the Washington Post’s headline the next day.), the incident remains the source of much amusement inside the White House.

bq. “Rahm asked me to send smoke signals to the Hill,” Orszag recalled.