Goldman Sachs and the Ghost of Sam Erwin

I'm holding out for a hero"
~ Jim Steinman

The 11-hour Congressional "hearing" concerning Goldman Sachs is over and our Congress did something that I thought was impossible.

They almost made me feel sorry for the gang at Goldman Sachs.

I've been one of Wall Street's biggest critics and a Goldman critic in particular. Please note my recent Huffington Post column, "Too Big To Jail".

I was opposed to the Wall Street bailouts that were engineered by former Goldman chief, Henry "Hank" Paulson (with Ben Bernanke and Timothy Geithner, cheering him on). I'm convinced that when all of this is said and done, you are going to find a lot of dirty dealings and a lot of bad behavior on the part of Goldman.

I'm also convinced this Congress is never going to find it. They are not going to find anything except a way to get their faces on television.

Any stand up comic knows that a great way to draw attention is to use profanity. Thus, it is truly sad to see a Senator I used to respect (note that I am a lifelong Democrat) like Carl Levin fall for that tactic.

His performance wasn't worthy of a United States Senator. It wasn't worthy of a three am spot on the Comedy Channel. It was strictly designed to get him into the news cycle.

Carl got his fifteen minutes of fame but the country isn't any closer to finding out what really happened at Goldman Sachs.

All we know is that our Senators are prone to potty language and preening for the cameras.

When I was a child, using bad language would cause my mother to wash my mouth out with soap.

We need the people at Proctor and Gamble to send a few cases of Ivory up to Washington.

There was a point in time when Congressional hearings accomplished something. The last time I can remember when that was true was during the Watergate hearings.

The chair of that committee, Sam Erwin, captured the attention of the American people. Not by playing to the crowd or using gutter language. He did it by holding an investigative hearing that actually investigated something.

Ervin was chosen to head the Watergate committee by Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield because he DIDN'T want to play politics. Ervin had no desire to run for president or even seek re election. He was just there to uphold the constitution.

Which he did pretty well.

The only potential presidential candidate on the Watergate committee was Howard Baker, a Republican. He asked the essential question, "what did the president know and when did he know it?" It helped frame President Nixon's involvement for the American people but it wasn't a question designed to play to the crowd or definitely wouldn't help Baker in a future Republican primary.

Erwin and Baker ran a committee designed to find some answers and uncover cover ups. They did that pretty well.

Why don't we have leaders like that now?

Another Sam, Sam Rayburn, probably had it right in his long term opposition to televising Congressional hearings. Speaker Rayburn understood Congress as well as anyone and knew that members couldn't help themselves from playing to the cameras.

Like they did today.

Don McNay, CLU, ChFC, MSFS, CSSC is an award winning columnist and Huffington Post Contributor.

He is touring to promote his book the "Son of a Son of a Gambler: Winners, Losers and What To Do When You Win the Lottery.

You can read more about Don at

McNay founded McNay Settlement Group, a structured settlement and financial consulting firm, in 1983 and Kentucky Guardianship Administrators LLC in 2000. You can read more about both at

McNay has Master's Degrees from Vanderbilt and the American College and is in the Eastern Kentucky University Hall of Distinguished Alumni.

McNay has written two books. Most recent is Son of a Son of a Gambler: Winners, Losers and What to Do When You Win The Lottery

McNay is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Round Table and has four professional designations in the financial services field.