SEC Chair Mary Jo White Is Edna Mode From The Incredibles

The SEC's spree of enforcement actions makes the parallels plain: Both are diminutive, bespectacled, and part of a crime-fighting organization.
Double.jpg

Wikimedia Commons/Reuters

Mary Jo White's SEC is out to fight crime.

This week, the Securities Exchange Commission and the Justice Department filed separate lawsuits in North Carolina against Bank of America and two of its subsidiaries, claiming that the company defrauded its investors when it sold them $855 million worth of "toxic waste," i.e. risky mortgage-backed securities, but forgot to tell them about the "toxic waste" part.

This is the latest in a series of SEC crackdowns on firms caught up in the financial crisis. In the past month, the agency has charged hedge-fund manager Steven Cohen with failing to supervise two employees accused of insider trading, and it recently decided to renege on its previous settlement with Philip Falcone, a money manager accused of market manipulation, so that it can pursue harsher punishment against him.

White, the recently appointed SEC chairwoman, is alternately described as a Wall Street-loving regulation softie and a knight-like enforcer leading the charge on government crackdown. It's too soon to tell what her record at the SEC will look like, but in this newest effort to take on a banking giant, it seems like she might set a tone of strong enforcement.

But let's not pretend -- this is not a deep analysis of the SEC's record or future. This is a nod to the force of being that unites White and the similarly diminutive Edna Mode, super-hero costumier to The Incredibles. Take a look at this video from the Wall Street Journal, in which White outlines the SEC's intent to extract explicit admissions of guilt from the companies it pursues. As James B. Stewart noted in the New York Times, this posture shift could bring new power to the SEC in negotiations, as statements of guilt may make companies more vulnerable to lawsuits from individual investors and others.

White is calm and reasoned but firm, bringing to mind President Obama's comment when he nominated her: "You don't want to mess with Mary Jo."

Now compare: A fierce and historically assured Edna Mode, enforcing one of the more important lessons of superhero life -- no capes.

In other news on the Obama Administration/animated character-doppelganger beat, see Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (secret life: Scooby Doo zombie).

Presented by

Emma Green is the assistant managing editor of TheAtlantic.com, where she also writes about religion and culture.

Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

You don't have to tell her how big she is. You don't need to touch her belly.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

You don't have to tell her how big she is. You don't need to touch her belly.

Video

Maine's Underground Street Art

"Graffiti is the farthest thing from anarchy."

Video

The Joy of Running in a Beautiful Place

A love letter to California's Marin Headlands

Video

'I Didn't Even Know What I Was Going Through'

A 17-year-old describes his struggles with depression.

Video

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Video

The Farmer Who Won't Quit

A filmmaker returns to his hometown to profile the patriarch of a family farm

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

More in Politics

Just In