OK. Maybe just a Barnum world — P.T. Barnum, that is. This legendary promoter of famous hoaxes comes to mind once again as I watch the various congressional hearings related to the financial crisis, or read of the testimony from those hearings. Why? Because the most famous thing he probably never said — "There's a sucker born ever minute" — could be, and perhaps is, the unofficial motto of Wall Streets banksters and the conservatives (plus some Democrats who should have known better) that aided and abetted them.
And, no, it hardly matters that Barnum is said to have denied uttering the famous words. The phrase was coined in connection to Barnum's role in the Cardiff Giant hoax, an amusing bit of history about a battle between hoaxers and hucksters who didn't much care if their customers knew what what they were paying for or got what they were paying for — so long as the scam paid off, and the scammers got paid in the end.
I couldn't help hearing some hauntingly Barnumeque echoes in Sen. Carl Levin's grilling of Goldman Sachs CFO, David Viniar.
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