For the past week or so, news reports have caused Fed watchers and progressives to conclude that Summers had become the leading contender to replace Ben Bernanke, surpassing Fed vice chair Janet Yellen, who had been the odds-on favorite for months.
This concern was bolstered by a public relations push by Summers allies, though the White House's official position is that Obama has made no decision, a decision was never imminent, and won't be coming until the fall.
But even if the White House comes to the conclusion that Summers is the superior choice to replace Bernanke, they've now been apprised that liberal anger at Summers over his controversial statements about women, and his ties to Wall Street (and the concern that Obama will miss an opportunity to break a big economic and political glass ceiling) isn't a fringe or ephemeral phenomenon.
Instead, Senate Democratic leaders have concluded that a confirmation fight over Summers would be a long, wasteful, divisive slog, and might ultimately fail. About a third of Senate Democrats, including Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), have signed a letter, authored by Sherrod Brown (D-OH) urging Obama to nominate Yellen. The statement from the leadership aide suggests the letter actually reflects opposition to Summers, as opposed to merely a preference for Yellen.