NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- You know how when an argument drags on for a while, you sometimes forget what you're arguing about? Sometimes I feel that's how it is with the case of Goldman Sachs ( GS)versus America.
Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn
That's why it was hard to get too excited about watching Goldman President Gary Cohn's appearance before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission this week to explain his firm's trades with AIG ( AIG). What could possibly be asked that hadn't been asked already? What could Cohn possibly say that would provide any new insight into these absurdly complex transactions? And is that even the goal -- to provide insight into these deals? Or is it to figure out a way to hold Goldman -- or someone, or something -- responsible for the weak state of our economy? While in general I am in favor of greater, rather than less, disclosure, and I am all for holding the feet of rich and powerful people to the fire, I am not sure that digging into these transactions with the idea that they hold some key to Goldman's guilt or innocence is a fruitful exercise any longer. Still, it is hard to fault Erik Shatzker of Bloomberg for doing his job. He brought his cameraman down to Washington and got an interview with Cohn this week, and dutifully asked the kind of tough-but-respectful questions one expects of a high-level mainstream newsman. I have to say, though, watching the back and forth, that I'd much rather see Sacha Baron Cohen or possibly Jon Stewart interview Cohn or, more appropriately, Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein. Only then might we begin to get at larger questions that are ultimately more important that the ins and outs of what might the value of this collateral have been at such and such time, or how was this collateralized debt obligation different from that highly similar one. But the Shatzker-Cohn interview is what we have to work with at the moment, and I was struck by the opening exchange. The question of the moment, Shatzker seems to have decided, is Did Goldman Profit By Betting Against Deals It Helped Create? And so Shatzker, in his opening question, asks Cohn about a statement he made before the Commission, that, in Shatzker's phrasing, "most of the collateralized debt obligation/credit default swap business that Goldman Sachs did with AIG was to facilitate client transactions."