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The Boston Globe


opinion | jennifer graham

Free to be you and mean

In important jobs, an abrasive manner shouldn’t be a disqualifying factor

The euphemism was “brusque demeanor,” but what Larry Summers’ critics really meant was: The guy’s kind of a jerk. In the pantheon of descriptives that encircle the former Harvard president, who withdrew recently from consideration for the chairmanship of the Federal Reserve, Summers is “abrasive,” “blustery,” “bull-headed,” “a bully.” But if anything, words like these are meant as sugar coating.

“I’ve heard it said that I can be arrogant,” Summers has admitted rakishly, and the confession always elicits a laugh. But a thimble of self-deprecation cannot desalt an ocean of erosive ego. Therefore, Summers will not replace current Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, not because people don’t like Summers’ views on the market, but because so many people don’t like him.

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