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If that's the case, it's hard to see what the point was. There's plenty of ways that a Senator on the Banking and Finance Committee can communicate her preferences to the various agencies that the Committee oversees. Presumably, she chose a public embarrassment over a more substantive dialog for a reason; I just can't see what that reason might be.

I really don't believe you are this naive, but I can't imagine another reason for asking this question.

In 1973 in a Congressional committee hearing Fred Thompson asked Alexander Butterfield if he was aware of "recording devices" in the Oval Office, and Butterfield admitted that he was. This was unnecessary, since Butterfield had already told other committee members in private that recording devices existed and were in continuous use. Why bother going through this charade in public? (The obvious answer is that it's political theater, engaged for the public benefit, not to elicit information not already known.)

In 1954 a similar exercise was held in which Senator McCarthy was repeatedly asked to justify his tirades and "secret lists", and the purpose again was not to find out things which weren't known, but to demonstrate to supporters that reckless accusations could be met with national humiliation on network television, and that those who were silently acceding to the Senator's witch hunts were on notice that their behavior might be unacceptable to the electorate in future elections.

It's political theater, and it has a long and grand tradition in Washington. Does anyone really think we're going to get the tobacco executives to say "Yes, nicotine is addictive and should be regulated more stringently?" That BP is going to say "yes, we cut back on safety to save a few bucks and increase profits and that's why there are a quadrillion barrels of oil floating around in the Gulf?"

Of course not. The "public theater" is one mechanism, not always successful, of putting industry or political leaders on notice, and of galvanizing public opinion in a direction the speaker wants it to go.

You really can't believe the same result is going to be had by having a quiet lunch of sprouts and pears and then drafting a piece of legislation for circulation to the opposition party, can you? Politics is a rough sport. The Banking industry, aided by most Republicans but also many Democrats has played it well over the past several decades, and Warren has decided to send out flyers to their regulators that they have fallen down - desperately - in doing their job.
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