The Hearing From Hell

Grandstanding senators squared off against smug and evasive bankers. Tunku Varadarajan on how Goldman Sachs’ sorry performance on Capitol Hill proves Wall Street is on another planet. Plus, watch the top moments from the hearing.

The gulf between ordinary Americans and those who work on Wall Street will have seemed vast, and not merely in terms of the amounts of money that the latter make.

by Tunku Varadarajan
The Daily Beast

Piece of crap. Shitty deal. Junk.

These distinctly un-senatorial words slopped forth repeatedly from the mouth of Carl Levin on Monday evening, and anyone tuning into the Senate subcommittee hearing on financial reform could be forgiven for wondering whether this could really be C-Span, and not HBO or Showtime. Our political rituals, usually decorous and borderline-prissy, are seldom as coarse as this, and Levin’s performance alone (while not always enlightening) was worth the price of admission.

On the national stage was a cast from Goldman Sachs, facing an inquisition from a group of senators led by the bristling, frothing Levin. At one point in the late evening, an exchange between Levin and Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman, was best characterized as scatology versus sophistry. The senator made liberal use of words (“shitty,” “crap,” “crappy”) gleaned from internal Goldman emails that described the quality of CDOs the firm was offering for sale to investors; while the CEO bunted these fecal fastballs with a defense that was too punctiliously tailored to win favor with an American public that wants an apology in plain English.

Overall, the spectacle was depressing: There were grandstanding senators, no one more so than Levin (though John McCain, too, was shockingly mediocre, a cut-price populist who’d failed to do his homework on the subject); and evasive bankers who were sometimes smug, sometimes obsequious, and always unlikeable.

The two sides, for the most part, talked past each other…

The article continues at The Daily Beast.

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