Verdict First, Evidence Later: Bankers Delivering Testimony on Hill the 'Lowest of Low-Lifes'

Verdict first, evidence later?

In a Wednesday morning post, political color reporter Mark Leibovich (who more often writes friendly tributes to Democratic pols and unflattering profiles of Republicans) convicted some prominent bankers before they even began delivering their testimony before a Capitol Hill commission charged with determining the causes of the financial debacle, "The Bankers' Lineup."

You don't have to be wild about big bonuses for bankers or their history of opaque financial shenanigans to think Leibovich is making a slanted caricature out of this "rogue's gallery" of executives.

The four bankers of the apocalypse strode into the room for the Congressional equivalent of a perp walk. They stood in a crooked line, and raised their hands haltingly, looking at one another as if to see whether the other guys were going to do it, too. It was one of the more indecisive swearings-in you will ever see on Capitol Hill.

As cameras clacked Wednesday, four of the nation's highest financial fliers - or, as some have concluded - lowest of low-lifes - took their places for the swearing-in before the 10-member commission charged with determining the causes of the nation's financial debacle. (DealBook is live blogging the hearings.)

The bankers - Lloyd C. Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, John J. Mack of Morgan Stanley and Brian T. Moynihan of Bank of America - joined a rogue's gallery of targeted titans who have been through this process before: tobacco executives, automakers and baseball's steroid-users, among others. Few remember what they said, but the images of them standing in hearing rooms linger as cultural mug shots.

How's this for unflattering?

Mr. Mack (with the bushy eyebrows) stood apart from the other bad boys in the back of the hearing room. "I'm not going up there," he said to no one in particular, defying the pregame photo blitz until the last possible second.