Even in a financial crisis obviously precipitated by an orgy of deregulation, writes Wall Street Journal columnist Thomas Frank, the right has done a spectacular job deflecting blame. Looking to point the finger at something other than "unbridled pecuniary motives," conservatives have targeted Democrat-friendly Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for buying up subprime mortgages—as if that somehow induced lenders to "hand them out like candy."
He points out that Fannie and Freddie didn't originate any of the bad loans, bundle them into securities, or understate their risks. Similarly, blaming undesirable borrowers, the other conservative dodge, only works if you assume that working-class homeowners got together to invent mortgage-backed securities and then, "just for good measure," lobbied ratings agencies to underprice the risk of those securities. It's patently ridiculous, he argues. "But truth is no ally to a conservative with his back to the wall."