“BUT DOES Obama listen to me? No, he listens to Tim Geithner, whose background was as a bureaucrat at IMF before he became head of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, on whose board sat all the big bankers he was supposed to oversee and regulate. With real unemployment pushing 20%, home values down 40%, and global debt manipulation lost to control, Obama cannot be reelected.”
That was New York Times columnist Joe Nocera, letting loose the other night at Patricia Duff’s private screening of HBO’s “Too Big Too Fail” movie, which examines the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers.
Although none of the film’s stars — John Hurt, Paul Giamatti, James Woods, Matthew Modine — were present for the screening, which happened at New York City’s Austrian Cultural Center, columnist Nocera was on hand, as was publisher Mort Zuckerman. Both men held brief court afterwards, expressing their feelings about what they consider the sorry future of America’s economy.
Zuckerman did inject a note of levity when he advised the audience to “wear asbestos” while reading Nocera’s most recent Times column, in which the writer described the Tea Party as “waging jihad against the economy.”
But Nocera quickly interjected, insisting his words were “immoderate” and that of course he did not really view that wing of the Right as “terrorists.”
However, Nocera did not think his remarks about President Obama were “immoderate.”
I do not think it is wise to write the president off a full year before the election, but the way it stands now, he is super-vulnerable and seems incapable of deploying the strength needed to assure a second term. If he wins, it will not be the triumph of two and a half years ago. Obama could squeak in as the better of two evils, depending on who the Republicans pick to run against him.
My advice? Call Congress back from vacation and make them work on the debt and credit debacles. Even if it leads to nothing concrete — as if anything concrete actually comes out of Congress — it would look good. It would sound good. Time for some drama, Obama.
* * *
ASHTON KUTCHER is best known as a charming TV and movie actor (now replacing Charlie Sheen on “Two and a Half Men”) and as the beloved of Demi Moore.
But Kutcher’s real success has come from championing new communication technology, such as Twitter, which he seemingly “invented” overnight. He’s a social media guru, a hot tech nerd/mogul with fingers in every digital pie.
Kutcher is on the cover of Details magazine. Inside, he is interviewed by Jonah Weiner. The actor had a lot to say about the power of social networking.
“Look at the people in Egypt and Syria, who are leading revolutions through Twitter. One person can have just as loud a voice as an entire media corporation.” Asked about the blurring of on and offline lives, Ashton says, “I think technology is just mapping and organizing what already exists. If you’re an asshole offline, you’re probably an asshole online … you have to learn to negotiate it, or you can choose not to participate. People used to behave morally because they thought God was watching — in some ways God today is the collective, and the collective is watching.”
Ashton believes that the more people realize “the collective is watching,” the less they’ll be tempted to go down the Anthony Weiner road to ruin. (I don’t agree — I think the exhibitionism and narcissism that social networking encourages is here to stay.)
Ashton concedes, “There’s some blatantly intrusive stuff people are doing. I’m not particularly a fan of Sarah Palin, but perusing all of her e-mails because we can? I think that’s bullshit.”
But what about privacy? Hasn’t social media, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace killed it as surely as Macbeth murdered sleep? Ashton says: “I think privacy is valuable. You don’t have to share everything, and it’s healthy to occasionally hit the pause button and ask if you’re oversharing. But at the end of the day, if you’re not doing anything wrong you don’t have anything to hide.”
Hmmm … well, Mr. Kutcher, the problem is, many people who “overshare” don’t think they are really doing anything wrong, until they’ve overshared themselves out of their job and/or into public humiliation.
Ashton was a biochemistry major before he became a runway model and then an actor. Oh, kid — why couldn’t you have done something fascinating with enzymes or lipids or living organisms that don’t tweet?
* * *
“JENNY, IT’S a sellout.”
“I’m always a sellout!”
So it went between Dirk Bogarde and Judy Garland in Judy’s final movie, “I Could Go On Singing.” It was a scene from life — somebody trying to persuade Garland, who was playing a controversial concert singer, to forget her troubles, get happy, and go onstage. The scene was a five minute, one-take stunner, in which Garland expresses her frustration and bitterness, after a lifetime of giving, giving, giving. (She wrote much of the dialogue herself.)
Next month, a new book hits the shelves — a glorious coffee-table entry titled “Judy: A Legendary Film Career.” Written by Garland historian extraordinaire John Fricke, it is a glossy, gorgeous tribute, packed with hundreds of never-before-seen photos of the star — portraits, costume tests, on-set candids.
When a tragically wraithlike Judy died in 1969 of what the coroner called “an incautious overdose” (simply one pill too many), her reputation had been soiled by years of unsavory headlines, rumored suicide attempts, an elusive voice. Her decline had begun in earnest after the cancellation of her TV series in 1964 — the ensuing five years were an agony for her and for those who loved her.
But since that time, slowly, year by year, Judy’s great work, on screen, TV, radio and onstage has been revived, re-evaluated, appreciated anew. John Fricke’s latest book seems the crowning glory of a decades-long resuscitation of a career that stands unequaled in show biz history.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of her film debut, the 60th anniversary of her first legendary appearance at the Palace Theater, and the 50th anniversary of her myth-making Carnegie Hall concert.
Time passes, but genius is forever.