Is Frank Rich working on a quota system for offensive comparisons?
The latest Sunday Week in Review column by Frank Rich, "The Other Plot to Wreck America," contained yet another regrettable comparison between the Wall Street crisis and the 9-11 terror attacks. Just three weeks ago Rich suggested the Enron scandal (remember that?) had more significance to U.S. society than the September 11 terrorist attacks.
There may not be a person in America without a strong opinion about what coulda, shoulda been done to prevent the underwear bomber from boarding that Christmas flight to Detroit. In the years since 9/11, we've all become counterterrorists. But in the 16 months since that other calamity in downtown New York - the crash precipitated by the 9/15 failure of Lehman Brothers - most of us are still ignorant about what Warren Buffett called the "financial weapons of mass destruction" that wrecked our economy. Fluent as we are in Al Qaeda and body scanners, when it comes to synthetic C.D.O.'s and credit-default swaps, not so much.
What we don't know will hurt us, and quite possibly on a more devastating scale than any Qaeda attack. Americans must be told the full story of how Wall Street gamed and inflated the housing bubble, made out like bandits, and then left millions of households in ruin. Without that reckoning, there will be no public clamor for serious reform of a financial system that was as cunningly breached as airline security at the Amsterdam airport. And without reform, another massive attack on our economic security is guaranteed. Now that it can count on government bailouts, Wall Street has more incentive than ever to pump up its risks - secure that it can keep the bonanzas while we get stuck with the losses.