02/28/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Maureen Dowd Goes Buck Wild On Bankers

Whoa, nelly! The New York Times' Maureen Dowd woke up with an insatiable appetite for the blood of Merrill Lynch redecoration buff John Thain, and has thus come down on "feckless financiers" like the Guns of Navarone. She'd like something extra-judicial to happen to these captains of the banking industry. Or, at the very least, something quasi-religious:

As President Obama spreads his New Testament balm over the capital, I'm longing for a bit of Old Testament wrath.

Couldn't he throw down his BlackBerry tablet and smash it in anger over the feckless financiers, the gods of gold and their idols -- in this case not a gilt calf but an $87,000 area rug, a cache of diamond Tiffany and Cartier watches and a French-made luxury corporate jet?

Now that we're nationalizing, couldn't we fire any obtuse bankers and auto executives who cling to perks and bonuses even as the economy is following John Thain down his antique commode?

How could Citigroup be so dumb as to go ahead with plans to get a new $50 million corporate jet, the exclusive Dassault Falcon 7X seating 12, after losing $28.5 billion in the past 15 months and receiving $345 billion in government investments and guarantees?

Well, isn't she pleased, then, that Obama put the kibosh on that luxe airplane? Actually, before you go applauding that particular feat, let's wonder why Citigroup was even considering the purchase in the first place. Isn't Citi Chairman Richard Parsons one of Obama's economic advisers? And recently considered as a candidate to fill the hole at Commerce? Would that all ostentatious CEO purchases could have a corresponding P.R.-nightmare intersection with the Obama administration!

Anyway, Dowd works out her anger on corporate execs funding their own perk packages whilst the Common People lose their jobs:

The former masters of the universe don't seem to fully comprehend that their universe has crumbled and, thanks to them, so has ours. Real people are losing real jobs at Caterpillar, Home Depot and Sprint Nextel; these and other companies announced on Monday that they would cut more than 75,000 jobs in the U.S. and around the world, as consumer confidence and home prices swan-dived.


In an interview with Maria Bartiromo on CNBC, Thain used the specious, contemptible reasoning that other executives use to rationalize why they're keeping their bonuses as profits are plunging.

"If you don't pay your best people, you will destroy your franchise" and they'll go elsewhere, he said.

Dowd goes on, listing the big-ticket items Thain spent company monies on, suggesting that he could have made do with a desk and a phone, and finally calling for the distribution of "shackles" and convening of "show trials."

A more pointed observer might wonder how Dowd might feel the next time the Times lays off their own employees. Will she be able to say that the well-funded trip that she and Alessandra Stanley took to a Florida spa for the Times Travel section was absolutely necessary? Chances are, Dowd will face down critics by glibly inveighing against "destroying the franchise."