WARREN ISN’T PART OF THE PROBLEM; SHE’S PART OF THE SOLUTION…. Imagine a political world in which Elizabeth Warren and her efforts to champion the needs of American consumers were celebrated, the financial institutions she tries to hold accountable were held suspect, and Republican efforts to tear her down were deemed scandalous.

Regrettably, this just isn’t the case. Instead, as the New York TimesJoe Nocera reports, the GOP appears almost desperate to tear Warren down before she’s able to help more of the public.

The pinata sat alone at the witness table, facing the members of the House subcommittee on financial institutions and consumer credit.

The Wednesday morning hearing was titled “Oversight of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.” The only witness was the pinata, otherwise known as Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard law professor hired last year by President Obama to get the new bureau — the only new agency created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law — up and running. She may or may not be nominated by the president to serve as its first director when it goes live in July, but in the here and now she’s clearly running the joint.

And thus the real purpose of the hearing: to allow the Republicans who now run the House to box Ms. Warren about the ears. The big banks loathe Ms. Warren, who has made a career out of pointing out all the ways they gouge financial consumers — and whose primary goal is to make such gouging more difficult. So, naturally, the Republicans loathe her too. That she might someday run this bureau terrifies the banks. So, naturally, it terrifies the Republicans.

The banks and their Congressional allies have another, more recent gripe. Rather than waiting until July to start helping financial consumers, Ms. Warren has been trying to help them now. Can you believe the nerve of that woman?

I can scarcely imagine an environment in which the congressional GOP was less furious with Warren for looking out for us, and just a little furious with financial institutions whose fraud and mismanagement nearly destroyed the global economy.

Indeed, as Nocera explained very well, Republicans look back at the financial crisis of 2008 and “act as if nothing needs to be done to prevent another crisis. Indeed, they act as if the crisis never happened.”

For her part, Warren tried to explain to the committee, in defense of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, “We need a cop on the beat that American families can count on. It is critical that we get this right — a real cop on the beat.”

This didn’t go over well with the far-right GOP, which simply doesn’t see the need for a cop or even a beat. Instead, Republicans see themselves as well-paid criminal defense attorneys, with Wall Street as their only client.

The party should be awfully pleased that the vast majority of the public has no interest in committee hearings or the financial reform process. Because if voters, who tend to hold Wall Street in low regard in the wake of the crash, realized who Republicans were shamelessly carrying water for, and who they were attacking for looking out for consumers, the GOP would struggle to win another election for the foreseeable future.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.