Man Without Qualities

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Running In Place

The Washington Post today has a new state-of-the-art article about the latter days of Enron. It describes some wonderful, dark, priceless scenes:

A few days later, the [prominent Houston law firm, Vinson & Elkins LLP] reported to [Kenneth] Lay that no further investigation was necessary.

The deals that troubled [Enron vice president Sherron] Watkins did have "bad cosmetics" and carried "a serious risk of adverse publicity and litigation," V&E would write in a private report to Enron.

Still, "The facts disclosed through our preliminary investigation do not, in our judgment, warrant a further widespread investigation by independent counsel and auditors."

Talk about a dry sense of humor! Who knew Texas lawyers could compete in that arena?

But, overall, what is perhaps most striking about the Washington Post effort is how little it adds to what was already known about these matters say, four months ago.

And now it is Robert Rubin's actions in connection with Enron that are being described by some of his defenders as having "bad cosmetics," which nevertheless "do not, in our judgment, warrant a further widespread investigation," this time, by Congress. As the Note puts it:

We wonder when someone (in the press? in the Republican-controlled House?) will ask Bob Rubin for more about what he knew and when he knew it when he called Treasury looking for help for Enron; and we wonder if those White House and O'Neill sharpies have this serious push-back stratagem on their radar.

The Wall Street Journal ed board takes up just the corner of the Rubin matter, praising Treasury Secretary O'Neill for his Sunday Singapore Sling Slap at Rubin, but then reverting to form and saying what O'Neill really should have done was use the opportunity to call for more tax cuts.

The Washington Times editorial page continues its campaign to get Senator Joe Lieberman to call Rubin to testify. LINK , but we ask: why don't they call on House Republicans to do the same thing?

Of course, one possible answer to this last question is that if Mr. Rubin is asked the tough questions by a Republican controlled House committee, the Senate Democrat-controlled committee might be let off the hook, while the Democrats and the liberal media go off on a distraction riff about how poor, sweet, classy Robert was grilled by those horrid Republicans and made to say terrible things. All the better not to have to pay attention to the answers or evasive non-answers. The Washington Times may not want to provoke that situation (and, no, it is not necessary to suggest that the Washington Times and the House committee are working together on this, in case you asked).

Besides, it is by no means clear that Mr. Rubin will ever have to answer the tough questions from Republicans or Democrats, for the same reason J. Edgar Hoover never had to answer tough questions from Republicans or Democrats. HE MAY KNOW TO MUCH.

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