You shouldn’t miss Washington Examiner editorial page editor Mark Tapscott’s interesting piece about the anxious fluttering today among folks on the political left. Seems that some liberals are aghast that President Obama is set to pick William Daley, a former Clinton Administration appointee with extensive Wall Street connections, as his new chief of staff.

The same people won’t be pleased, as Mark says, that the President is likely to give Gene Sperling (another former Clinton appointee who right now works for Obama’s Secretary of the Treasury, Tim Geithner) the nod as his new chief economic advisor, taking Larry Summers’ place.

However, some on the left (like David Corn) feel it is unfair to knock Sperling for having once worked for Goldman Sachs, pointing out that Sperling was paid to assist the Goldman Sachs Foundation with some of its charitable activities, rather than as a trader or investment advisor.

The torrent of assessments of Daley and Sperling leads one to think about how third-party observers can fairly evaluate a political appointee.

Slicing and dicing someone’s biography and past associations can provide hours of fun - especially if you want to focus on the possible motivations that person has for taking a particular political appointment.

Doing so is not as useful, however, as studying what a person has said about the issues they will work on, in the job for which they are being considered.

Not to pick on him, but let’s look more closely at Gene Sperling. Let’s look at where he stands on just two critical economic issues – ensuring adequate access to loans and credits for small businesses, and finding ways to prevent small community banks from having to shut down.

On the small business financing file, on May 18, 2010, Sperling provided written testimony to the House Committee on Financial Services regarding Obama Administration efforts to aid small businesses.

Much of the testimony is standard political boilerplate, of course, but look on the bright side – it’s hard to imagine the man that Sperling could replace, Larry Summers, ever agreeing to even put his name to a document that is supportive of small business.

Summers is someone who, according to an Obama Administration source quoted by journalist Jonathan Alter, “ 'basically doesn't believe in the government helping small business’ ” -- and yet somehow didn’t see a problem with the ongoing bonanza of government aid dished out to the titans of the US financial sector.

On aid to small banks , speaking with an AP writer back in August 2010, Sperling said the Obama Administration “strongly opposed” all “measures that were about saving or bailing out struggling banks,” and added that stimulating “small business lending” was a higher priority.

Fair enough – there is indeed a reasonable case to be made that it’s better to close down troubled small banks in an orderly way, if they truly are beyond saving.

Still, I would have liked to hear from Sperling about what can be done for small banks that can be pulled back from the brink, without full bailouts, and continue to provide finance to their small business customers.

Will Gene Sperling be a strong chief economic advisor? We need a full airing of his views to answer that question in a fair way – we can’t do it just on the basis of his ideas about small business lending and the plight of troubled community banks. Within the confines of this short blog, the (admittedly small) sample above is certainly encouraging, however. 

And let’s keep one thing in mind. President Obama could announce that he was appointing one of those Vikings from the Capital One credit card commercials as his chief economic advisor, and it would be an improvement on Larry Summers.