I don’t often disagree with James Taranto, particularly on legal issues, but I think he’s overreacting when he says it was “outrageous” and “ugly” for Newt Gingrich to suggest starting with Barney Frank and Chris Dodd in any discussion about who ought to be in jail over the financial meltdown.
Gingrich made this observation after the WaPost’s Karen Tumulty asked why no Wall Street execs “have gone to jail for the damage they did to the economy.” James is correct to point out that it is Ms. Tumulty who started the discussion down that road. She did this, of course, because she was dutifully pushing the Democratic narrative that the private financial sector, not irrational government policy, triggered our economic woes.
That’s obviously the spirit in which Speaker Gingrich took the question. He was not saying that Rep. Frank, Sen. Dodd, or anyone else should be sent to jail without due process. He was positing a competing narrative (actually, building on a competing narrative that Michele Bachmann had posited). He was saying that, if Tumulty wanted to play this game of who ought to be in jail, she should start with the politicians, not the businessmen.
Further, even taking all this at face value, I don’t think it is outrageous to make an argument that a politician should be in jail despite not having “been charged with, much less convicted of, any crime,” as James puts it. Politicians who are key allies of the executive branch are not like ordinary Americans.
Since no one, in any event, is going to be jailed without due process, and since people of Dodd and Frank’s stature are easily able to defend themselves in the media if Gingrich’s assertions are groundless, I don’t see what the big deal is.