Even judging by our new standards of politically acceptable behavior, it’s been quite a week in Washington. Apologies if this editorial is out of date by the time you read it; the news cycle moves fast in Trump’s America. 

The Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings dominated the headlines, along with the will-he-or-won’t-he get fired or quit Rod Rosenstein story. But the mid-week revelation from the Washington Post that CFPB policy director Eric Blankenstein authored a series of racist and sexist blog posts added insult to the injury already done to the consumer protection agency. 

Blankenstein admitted he wrote the anonymous posts but argued the opinions he expressed 14 years ago as a 25-year-old – calling most hate crimes hoaxes and questioning whether using the n-word makes someone inherently racist – had no bearing on his ability to do his job today. His job today, by the way, is to enforce fair lending and antidiscrimination requirements. 

Calls for Blankenstein to step down or be fired were swift but muted. The Post broke the story the evening before Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony at Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, the dominant story in the week’s breathless news coverage, leaving little bandwidth for the latest scandal in the D.C. swamp. 

“With such abhorrent views, Eric Blankenstein shouldn’t be let anywhere near the CFPB’s fair lending division, let alone running it. [CFPB acting director Mick Mulvaney] must fire him immediately,” Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress, a consumer advocacy organization that has been critical of Mulvaney’s leadership at the CFPB, said in a statement. 

Blankenstein was still employed at the CFPB as of Friday morning. But Blankenstein, as repugnant as his views are, is just one example of the new normal in the nation’s capital. 

To take just the CFPB as an example, three years ago the bureau was an aggressive enforcer of laws protecting consumers from discriminatory lending practices. Mulvaney has stripped the bureau of its ability to enforce the laws it was created to keep. 

Once a watchdog, the CFPB is now a toothless old hound – and an expensive one, since the acting director gave his staff large raises. When an agency is expensive but useless, it won’t be long before it is nonexistent. 

The swamp has not been drained. It has been restocked with political operatives far more vile than those they replaced. Worse than that is the lack of accountability – there’s no consequences for abhorrent views or actions, not in the organization or the administration.  

All that’s left is an overworked press corps, trying to inform the American people of the actions of their elected and appointed officials, and a very tired constituency conserving their energy for hugely important fights like that of a supreme court justice nomination. 

Blankenstein won’t be fired. But he should be. They all should be. Men and women who express opinions such as his, whether it was five years ago or 50, should be held accountable. Drain the swamp.

Drain the Swamp, Indeed

by Banker & Tradesman time to read: 2 min