Of all the characteristics of a successful politician, none is more essential than bare-faced cheek. Never has this been more evident than in the past fortnight, as senior Democrat members of the US legislature have sought to lay all the blame for the country's financial crisis on the executive arm of Government and Wall Street.
Neither of these two institutions is blameless – far from it. Yet when I see such senior Democrats as Barney Frank, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Christopher Dodd, Chairman of the Senate's Banking Committee, play the part of avenging angels – well, I can only stand in silent awe at the sheer tight-bottomed nerve of it. These are men with sphincters of steel.
What is the proximate cause of the collapse of confidence in the world's banks? Millions of improvident loans to American housebuyers. Which organisations were on their own responsible for guaranteeing half of this $12 trillion market? Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the so-called Government Sponsored Enterprises which last month were formally nationalised to prevent their immediate and catastrophic collapse. Now, who do you think were among the leading figures blocking all the earlier attempts by President Bush – and other Republicans – to bring these lending behemoths under greater regulatory control? Step forward, Barney Frank and Chris Dodd.
But what I fail to understand is why people are not more aware of this? Why the fuck isn't this plastered all over the media in the US? Why the fuck do we have to discover this via a column in the Indy? And what about this:
Cynical students of the American political system will note that the biggest recipient of campaign contributions from the munificent duo of Fannie and Freddie over the past 20 years was one Christopher Dodd, Democrat Chairman of the Senate's Banking Committee.
Rather surprisingly, given that he has only been in the Senate for four of those years, the second biggest beneficiary was Barack Obama.
It's a fucking disgrace: the people who supported the shameless corporatism of Fannie and Freddie were massive beneficiaries of their lobbying and now they're bending the US taxpayer over for another rigorous fisting, proudly preening about how they're saving the world.
Luckily we don't have sphincters of steel here.