Last night, we all probably noticed that Hillary Clinton became the first woman in American history to accept the nomination of a major political party. What might have gotten lost in all the historic hullabaloo and expertly produced political theatre was that Hillary Clinton said next-to-nothing about one of the biggest mysteries surrounding Hillary Clinton: Wall Street.
In maybe the most revealing part of her speech, Clinton gave an oratorical nod to the notion that her public persona is a bit obtuse and unknowable. "I get it that some people just don't know what to make of me," she said before launching in a rather typical political autohagiography. But one of the things that makes her difficult to get a handle on is the abiding question of - lord forgive us - is she too close to Wall Street?
That "question" has been thrown at her from the left, the right and the Trump for awhile now, but she can't seem to wriggle free of the paid Goldman Sachs speeches and Warrenista appeasement that she's wedged herself between whilst trying to provide clarity.
And speaking of clarity, in her biggest opportunity ever to address this question, Clinton said next to nothing about the financial sector.
She said this:
"And I believe Wall Street can never, ever be allowed to wreck Main Street again."
"Now, here's the thing, we're not only going to make all these investments, we're going to pay for every single one of them. And here's how: Wall Street, corporations, and the super-rich are going to start paying their fair share of taxes."
But those are both flavor-less platitudes that even centrists are beginning to embrace. They have no teeth and no actual meaning.
Her opponent in the primary wanted to set fire to Wall Street like The Joker on meth and her general election opponent has defaulted on the best loans to all the biggest banks and now wants to bring back Glass-Steagall. Surely, Hillary could muster something of excitement to say about Wall Street.
Here's the spiciest (arguably) that it got:
We're going to help more people learn a skill or practice a trade and make a good living doing it. We're going to give small businesses a boost. Make it easier to get credit. Way too many dreams die in the parking lots of banks.
That's a nice populist feint, but Hillary knows better. Dodd-Frank has done more to freeze up liquidity for small businesses than any piece of legislation in modern history. She might not support it wholeheartedly but she supports it and she should maybe talk about fixing it. What she's not going to do is follow through on her totally empty promise to Bernie Sanders about exploring a "21st Century Glass-Steagall." Throwing in that kind of threat on top of Dodd-Frank and whatever might be happening with whichever Basel number we're up to in 2017, well, that would be like unleashing Freddie Kreuger in a bank parking lot to maraud through as many dreams as he could enter.
Trump was quick to attack Hillary on her lack of regulatory specificity:
JK, he was just rehashing stale attack lines because his mania is worsening, but he is bringing up something that a lot of people want Hillary to offer clarity about. She had an opportunity to do it last night and didn't.
But she needs to get into this soon, because we're sick of talking about it.