Pandering and scapegoating are not new activities for politicians, but Carl Levin has perfected these dark arts. Most recently the Senator’s game has been to demonize Goldman, culminating in accusations that its ceo, Lloyd Blankfein, engaged in criminal behavior. Per WaPo last April, Levin
said federal prosecutors should review whether to bring perjury charges against Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein and other current and former employees who testified in Congress last year. Levin said they denied under oath that Goldman Sachs took a financial position against the mortgage market solely for its own profit, statements the senator said were untrue.
A spectacular show trial for perjury, complete with perp walks, would have been a great distraction from public questions concerning the government’s and Levin’s own role in creating the financial crisis and their floundering and inept regulation in its wake.
Levin had plenty of help from kindred spirits in film and journalism and even in the executive branch. And the underlying story played into the longstanding narrative of evil shorts.
But fortunately not everybody played along. Holman Jenkins and Andrew Ross Sorkin have now exposed gaping holes in the Senate subcommittee report that launched Levin’s accusations. Turns out Goldman didn’t have a “massive short” on the mortgage market after all, just as Blankfein had said.
So Levin is quietly slinking away from his current ploy, no doubt to hatch another one. In the meantime he’s demonstrated that politicians can misbehave even when they keep their pants on.