This week, when Ben S. Bernanke gave his first congressional testimony as chairman of the Federal Reserve, The New York Times noted that his "name is still unfamiliar to some members of Congress." A couple weeks ago the Times reported that prominent senators who would vote the very next day to confirm Alan Greenspan's successor were still a little hazy on the nomination:
Here is what Senator George Allen of Virginia, who is considering a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, said when asked his opinion of the Bernanke nomination.
Told that Mr. Bernanke was up for the Fed chairman's job, Mr. Allen hedged a little, said he had not been focused on it, and wondered aloud when the hearings would be. Told that the Senate Banking Committee hearings had concluded in November, the senator responded: "You mean I missed them all? I paid no attention to them."…
[Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)], who joked during a 2000 presidential debate that if Mr. Greenspan died, he would "prop him up and put a pair of dark glasses on him," in a repeat of a prank in the movie "Weekend at Bernie's," said he did not know too much about Mr. Bernanke, but was comforted to know that Mr. Greenspan had a high opinion of him.
"It hasn't gotten a lot of attention," Senator McCain said, "but I think he'll be carefully scrutinized in his hearings, and the view that other people have of him will carry a lot of weight in the financial world, particularly Greenspan."
Mr. McCain was asked if he would be surprised to learn that the hearings were over. He paused, his eyes widening, before giving the verbal equivalent of a knock on the forehead: "You're right, you're right, you're right. Duuuuuh."
Are members of Congress so busy perusing Hustler that they don't have time to glance at The Wall Street Journal?