Obama’s unforced Fed error

December 28, 2011, 8:49 PM UTC

Obama undermines his strongest attack on Mitt Romney.

President Obama yesterday announced plans to nominate Jerome Powell to the Federal Reserve’s board of governors. Somewhere in Iowa, Mitt Romney was cheering.

Powell served as undersecretary of the Treasury under President George H.W. Bush, but after that spent eight years as a partner with private equity firm The Carlyle Group.

That’s right: Obama, who already is using private equity as a cudgel to bash Romney, has voluntarily affirmed that someone with a similar background is best-equipped to help oversee the nation’s monetary policy. It’s like intentionally dealing your poker rival an extra ace.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that Powell is a poor choice on the monetary merits. And his nomination gives Obama some bi-partisan bonafides, since Powell served in a Republican administration and actually donated $1,000 to Romney’s campaign back in June. But it’s bad politics, diluting what is expected to be one of Obama’s key campaign attacks against Romney. Maybe a smart second-term move, but not when you’ve still got one more election to go.

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