Hank Paulson's memoir, The Day I Threatened To Break Ken Lewis's Legs, is out February 1. Presumably there'll be many pages devoted to the topic closest to the the former Treasury Secretary's heart-- birds-- but today we get a sneak peak at the role of another one of HP's homeboys-- God. As most of you probably know, Hank is a Christian Scientist, and it was the big man in the sky, the one with the genius idea not to treat illness with science, who got Paulson through the darkest days of the crisis. Naturally, it was god who came up with the idea to award AIG's counterparties 100 cents on the dollar, since it would help out his other client, Goldman Sachs. But getting serious for two, it was G-D who, on of of the most harrowing nights of 2008, busted into Paulson's home, a glorified crack-den, and pried the smack HP was contemplating shooting from his fingers. "No, Hank! You don't need this!" he bellowed, before forcing his lamb to flush the poison down the toilet.
Mr. Paulson, a Christian Scientist, said his faith helped him through the financial crisis. During the weekend of Lehman's collapse, he called his wife, Wendy, and told her, "I am really scared." She said he shouldn't be afraid, that his "job is to reflect God, Infinite Mind, and you can rely on Him."
In another scene, an exhausted, stressed-out Mr. Paulson wrestled with taking a sleeping pill, a move that would have violated his religious beliefs. He instead flushed it down the toilet, deciding "to rely on prayer, placing my trust in a higher power."
Okay, so now that we've given appropriate and sincere thanks, can we talk about something that's been irking HP? Something that stuck in his craw so bad he had to unload in the first few pages of the book? Something that, in the original draft, had an uncensored Paulson throwing stuff out there like "Dumb twat" and "Who is this bimbo?" and "Jesus, Ben, I told you no hookers with the bailout money."
There are some candid assessments of political figures. In the opening chapter, Mr. Paulson delivers a dim view of Sarah Palin. During a telephone conversation with Ms. Palin during the crisis, the vice-presidential candidate annoyed him by calling him "Hank."
"Right away she started calling me Hank," writes Mr. Paulson. "But for some reason the way she said it over the phone like that, even though we'd never met, rubbed me the wrong way. I'm also not sure she grasped the full dimensions of the situation I had sketched out--or so some of her comments made me think."