If you have 40 minutes to spare, this is an example of Jon Stewart at his best.
He excels at many things, but one of my favorites of his skills is when he settles in for the long haul and focuses all of his intelligence in engaging and dismantling his opponent’s argument. And this is a particularly good example because it’s not super-hostile, like when he’s interviewing some Republicans; Geithner isn’t even all that defensive, he’s kinda apologetic, in fact (“you’re a smart, thoughtful guy, and a lot of people agree with you”). Jon comes off as so sharp in this interview, though, it’s kind of erotic.
Geithner: “There was a lot of fancy stuff that contributed to the crash, whatever you want to call it —”
Geithner: “I was a civil servant at the Treasury, on the international part, and I grew up watching these crises happen…watching, frankly, countries screw it up by trying to either not take too much risk or not letting the financial sector make mistakes. They were well-intentioned mistakes, but still mistakes —”
Jon: “No, I understand the idea that you apply the Powell doctrine of overwhelming force in terms of re-liquidating and re-capitalizing the banks.”
Geithner: “Only because, scarred by experience, it was the only way to give people a measure of justice against the risk of a much worse outcome. Now I understand you think it would be possible to do that and some other things too, but you’re assuming a unicorn, because you’re assuming somehow we could have figured out a way to get Congress to go legislate hundreds of billions of dollars directly to the homeowners -“
Jon: “Well, the only reason why I say that is because, somehow, a unicorn did appear for the banks. And somehow, a mythical creature arose out of nowhere and presented them with billions and billions of dollars out of nowhere. Poof.”
Ahahaha, omg, the conclusion:
Jon: “I sat next to Donald Rumsfeld for a long time, talking about the Iraq War.”
Geithner: “This can’t be good. This is deeply unfair.”
Jon: “No, it’s not unfair.”
Geithner: “I should stop you right now.”
Jon: “You’re troubled, and you’re searching for answers, and I disagree with your conclusion. I think that there’s an awful lot you can do within statutory limits, when you have checks you are writing that are that large — that being said: at least when I look behind your eyes, there is something moving back there. And when I looked behind his eyes, after the Iraq War, he was just like, ‘This was fun. I was thinking about invading another country, wanna hear about that?’”