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In a fawning new profile of White House National Economic Council Director Larry Summers in The New Republic, we discover that Summers' tired thinking extends to the way he views being tired.
Noam Scheiber reports that "Summers functions on exceedingly little sleep.... To power through the day, Summers relies on a punishing Diet Coke regimen. The combination of fatigue and extreme caffeine intake can produce the occasional verbal and physical tic: Summers is a chronic foot-tapper and sometimes turns over words and clauses like an engine that won't start."
The notion that driving yourself to the point of exhaustion and chronic foot-tapping is a sign of commitment and achievement is as obsolete as the belief that pumping more money into the same institutions that created the crisis will solve it.
Summers' old boss, Bill Clinton, once said, "Every important mistake I've made in my life, I've made because I was too tired."
Many Wall Street high-flyers could echo this -- if they had any self-awareness. Instead, they subscribe to our culture's veneration of exhaustion. Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi describes how Wall Streeters, when challenged, "talk about how hard they work, the 90-hour weeks, the stress, the failed marriages, the hemorrhoids and gallstones they all get before they hit 40."
The country would be better off if Wall Street execs and, more importantly, Summers and Treasury Secretary Geithner -- who, we are admiringly told, works 15 hours a day -- knocked off early and came back to work the next day refreshed... and with some fresh ideas.