Whalen was stunned. “It seemed to me that he had no idea what I was talking about,” he recalls. As for the look: “Think Bambi looking into the headlights on an 18-wheeler.”

Weiss nails what was so concerning about Geithner in the first weeks of his tenure at Treasury:

There is something deeply disturbing about a Treasury secretary showing flop sweat in the middle of the worst economic crisis since Herbert Hoover was president.

The story then pivots to call Geithner the ultimate slur:

Bill Seidman, former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., considers the Treasury secretary to be “a smart guy but a certified bureaucrat.”

Man, can you print that in a respectable magazine?

Seidman says Geithner made a remarkably dumb comment when Seidman criticized Geithner’s boss in a speech overseas:

According to Seidman, Geithner called him and said, “You’re a disloyal American. You can’t make statements like that on foreign soil about a secretary of the Treasury.”

Oh, no. Not the secretary of the Treasury! Hosannas only for the SecTreas when international.

And another other confidence-sapping anecdote:

Geithner has been seeking to reclaim the narrative by writing an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal and granting a few carefully stage-managed interviews—so stage-managed, in fact, that a public-relations aide openly scribbled out talking points to Geithner in front of a National Public Radio producer during an interview at his office.

These stories aren’t knockout blows, but they’re good scrutiny of a critical figure in the economic crisis.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.