As many of you know, to call Hank Paulson a fan of birds would not do justice to the special relationship between the former Treasury Secretary and his feathered friends. Birds get nine mentions in his memoir (verus Warren Buffett’s six), he was said tofreak out when [they’d] fly into the glass windows of 85 Broad,” they’ve become the third person in his marriage (Wendy Paulson, also a huge fan, was apparently “jealous” of a recent outing Hank took without her, preferring to have them all to himself), they were the ones he was referring to when he said 20 percent of the staff at Goldman added 80 percent of the value, and, despite having to neglect them in order to deal with the whole Bear Stearns situation (he said he was sorry and he meant it), birds have remained unflaggingly loyal, among HP’s closest confidants, the sources of his most joyful and precious moments in life and just really great buddies. That’s why it doesn’t hurt that people aren’t banging down his door to kick back and watch the game over some non-alcoholic beer and learn about the observable differences among types of manure.

The other day, with the now homeless Occupiers still flooding the streets downtown, railing about bailed-out bankers, Henry Paulson, the former Treasury Secretary, Goldman Sachs C.E.O., and bailout architect, was uptown, taking a nature walk in Central Park. It was a drizzly day, and Paulson showed up at the Boathouse wearing a baggy suit and carrying a London Fog rain jacket. In person, he seems less like the “Superman” villain Lex Luthor, whom his grandchildren thinks he resembles, or William Hurt, who played him in “Too Big to Fail,” and more like a park ranger, full of jerky energy. “My wife’s jealous,” Paulson said, of his walk in the Park. (His wife, Wendy, is a naturalist who led bird walks there when the couple lived nearby.) Spotting a logbook where visitors record bird sightings, he flipped through until he came to a good entry. “See, this is someone who knew what they were doing,” he said and read off the species: “Everything from a house finch to a tufted titmouse and an Eastern towhee.”

Paulson doesn’t meet many hecklers, but he did have one bad encounter, about a year ago: “I was in the airport, and this guy kept staring at me. And he said, ‘Are you Hank Paulson, the Treasury Secretary?’ And I said, ‘Yes.’ And he said, ‘Do you really hate it when people come up to you like this?’ And I said, ‘Oh, no, people usually thank me or say something nice.’ And he looked at me, very perplexed, and said, ‘Yeah, I guess people try to be polite, don’t they?’ ” Near Bow Bridge, Paulson headed toward the western edge of the Park, where a car was waiting. “You know, I’m not looking for more friends at this point,” he said. “Everybody would rather be liked than not liked, but . . .” He trailed off. There was a stink in the air, and Paulson identified it: “Horse manure. I grew up on a farm—I know the smell of horse manure. It does smell better than pig manure.”

Probably feeling a bit regretful about not trading digits with him now, aren’t you, guy? Too little, too late, not that he cares. His manure knowledge is reserved for those who actually give a shit.

Birds And Bankers [New Yorker]

62 comments (hidden to protect delicate sensibilities)
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Comments (62)

  1. Posted by New Yorker | December 5, 2011 at 12:20 PM

    Paulson continued, "Horse manure's not that bad. I don't even mind the word 'manure.' You know, it's, it's 'nure,' which is good, and a 'ma' in front of it. MA-NURE. When you consider the other choices, 'manure' is actually pretty refreshing."

  2. Posted by Wilbur | December 5, 2011 at 12:22 PM

    “Horse manure. I grew up on a farm—I know the smell of horse manure. It does smell better than pig manure.”


  3. Posted by Guest | December 5, 2011 at 12:22 PM

    I just thought he was real quiet.

    – Billy from 4C

  4. Posted by Guest | December 5, 2011 at 12:24 PM

    That bad encounter really didn't seem so bad.

  5. Posted by guest | December 5, 2011 at 12:26 PM

    I'm sensitive, okay?


  6. Posted by Pretty Bird... | December 5, 2011 at 12:38 PM

    That's it! I've had it with this dump! We got no food, we got no jobs, OUR PETS HEADS ARE FALLING OFF!!!

  7. Posted by geoffgeoffgeoff | December 5, 2011 at 12:53 PM

    I'm more of a Luscious Legrat than a Tufted Titmouse, personally.

  8. Posted by Barrow Boy | December 5, 2011 at 1:02 PM

    I see them right tufted titmouse birds down Romford way as well. You should come ave a look some time, shag.

  9. Posted by BrotherLehman | December 5, 2011 at 2:01 PM

    You're all taking the horse manure. Now. No, you can't call your boards. You're all fucking taking it right fucking now or I'm calling your regulator to make you fucking take it. And you're giving us back preferred manure. Sheepshit. You fucking got that? Good. Just so we're clear.

    –Hank P.

  10. Posted by The Truth | December 5, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    tufted titmouse > or < blue footed booby

    – guy who didn't know ornithology could be so sexual

  11. Posted by Ranger Rick | December 5, 2011 at 3:59 PM

    It was later noted that the longbook was
    found to contain some graphic, violent
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    depicting Jon Corrzine and the bearded robin.

  12. Posted by Mr. "Hank" Clean | December 5, 2011 at 4:41 PM

    Perhaps if I didn't play with all that $hit, I may have not lost my hair…

  13. Posted by Barrett | December 5, 2011 at 8:50 PM

    Did anyone else notice that Paulson overestimated the flow of the Amazon by a factor of over 1,000 times? Aside from doing the math, if you accept that Lake Superior holds 10% of the earth's fresh surface water, it is easy to why his statement cannot be true.

  14. Posted by Guest | December 5, 2011 at 9:00 PM

    He's Cuckoo

  15. Posted by Patrick | December 16, 2011 at 9:32 AM

    According to Wikipedia:
    the water volume of Lake Superior is 12,000 cubic kilometers;
    the average discharge of the Amazon River is approximately 209,000 cubic meters per second.
    Based on those figures, according to my calculations it would actually take approximately 15,948 hours (1.82 years) for the Amazon River to discharge enough fresh water to fill Lake Superior.
    I hope Secretary Paulson had superior sources of information while discharging his duties during the financial crisis.

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